Cambridge, well known as a technology focused business hub, pipped long-time rival Oxford (2nd) to head the survey. While other major cities also rank highly – namely Edinburgh (3rd), Reading (7th), Bristol (9th) and York (13th) – a number of smaller conurbations have also placed well, including Crawley (4th), Worthing (5th), Aldershot (8th), Solihull (10th) and Stockport (14th).
The study, commissioned by Santander Corporate & Commercial banking and authored by Francis Greene, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Birmingham Business School at the University of Birmingham, also looked at 32 London boroughs against the same criteria – ranking Westminster in first place
Criteria for the report were based around five central "domains": Enterprise, Talent, Connectivity, Costs and Well-being. These were selected as being fundamental "building blocks" for business success.
The Enterprise domain, for example, which accounted for the largest weighting in the index, used nine measures to assess business vitality and sustainability including: business stock per 10,000 of working population; business start-ups per 10,000 of working population; five-year business survival rate; private sector employment density; and job density (total number of jobs/resident working population in area).
Francis Greene, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, said: "Favourable business conditions are found across different geographic parts of the UK as well as different boroughs in London, though some conurbations clearly have more business momentum than others. Many are making investments in education, infrastructure or transport to foster business success and this is to be applauded.
"While Cambridge ranks top overall and also in terms of Talent – and a large part of this is due to the world-class teaching at the University of Cambridge – it should be noted that many places rank highly in selected domains. Luton, Birmingham and Chatham are rated highly for Costs, while Crawley, Aldershot and Aberdeen head the Well-being domain. It is important to focus on factors such as these: personal well-being, for instance, has a positive impact as places with higher earnings, better employment and, arguably, more satisfied people are more likely to enjoy more favourable business conditions."
Marcelino Castrillo, Head of SME, Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: "The future of the UK economy depends on its businesses and their success and growth. It is vital that all stakeholders in this endeavour encourage and foster business growth – the UK economy is, after all, the aggregate of our businesses. The more vibrant and successful they are, the more vibrant and successful we all are.
"Santander is passionate about working with British businesses to help them meet their aspirations. Our focus is on the relationships we are able to build with our business customers, and we hope that this report will help us further develop our understanding of how a business’s needs differ from region to region and how we can tailor our support and local contacts and networks accordingly."
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