Is London the best place in the country for entrepreneurs?

According to new data from NatWest’s Entrepreneurship Monitor, London is seen as the best place in the country to start a new business.

With Brexit muddying the economic waters for Britain, it is hard to predict what the future of the UK’s businesses will look like. Changes to import/export tariffs, a reduction in foreign talent and a squeeze on the Sterling initially makes the British Isles look like an unhealthy place to start a business. Happily, Britain is marching towards Brexit with its head held high and is doing remarkably better than initially thought.

Entrepreneurs across the country are jumping at the chance to start something new, with the only real question for them to consider is: “where is the best place to start?”

Unsurprisingly, the NatWest Entrepreneurship Monitor reveals a third of the population believe that London is the best place in the country to start a new business because of its good transport links and a strong local economy.

Compared to the rest of the country, Londoners are less likely than anyone else in the UK to see fear of failure as a barrier to starting a new business – 26 per cent compared to 33 per cent, but they are more concerned about testing their start-up ideas -16 per cent compared with 11 per cent.

The research also discovers that, of those who say that their region is a good place to start a new business, Londoners are twice as likely to attribute their region’s success to greater access to accelerator hubs than people who think the same thing about their own region – 44 per cent in London compared to 18 per cent elsewhere. Londoners are also more likely to prefer to be self employed than Britons overall, with 27 per cent preferring to work for themselves compared to 23 per cent for the whole population.

Against this backdrop, NatWest has opened the doors to its Regents House innovation centre in Angel, to London’s first Entrepreneurial Spark hub – the world’s largest free business accelerator- in partnership with KPMG, Del EMC and Pinsent Masons. The hub will be home to more than 100 of the capital’s most inspiring entrepreneurs, who will be given free office space and facilities, business advice, entrepreneurial enabling support and access to business and support networks.

Only 17 per cent of people think now is a good time to start a business, hitting a record low according to the NatWest Entrepreneurship Monitor. The report, released today, also shows the proportion of people wanting to start their own business has dropped from 39 per cent to 14 per cent since the vote to leave the EU.

The reasons range from less people believing that they have the ability and skills to set up their own business – dropping from 42 per cent to 36 per cent; a feeling that it is too risky – 34 per cent; and fear of failure – 58 per cent.

Encouragingly young people are much more likely to want to start up their own business. However, this desire is not being turned into action as the ambition gap in young people is almost double that of the general population – 20 per cent compared to 12 per cent.

Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private Banking at NatWest, says, “These figures are not surprising but they are a stark reminder of the economic uncertainty and barriers that would-be entrepreneurs are facing. This is why it is so important that we step up to support start ups, scale ups and small businesses allowing them to concentrate on establishing and growing their business and creating jobs for the UK economy.

“This is why we’re so excited to be opening the capital’s first Entrepreneurial Spark accelerator in Regents House, which adds to our already established network of 12 free accelerator hubs, giving us full coverage across the UK. We are committed to playing our role in supporting the UK’s future business leaders and that together with Entrepreneurial Spark, we are giving them the best possible chance to succeed.”

Entrepreneurial Spark CEO Lucy-Rose Walker says, “Our world class business support focuses on the mindset and behaviours of the entrepreneurial leader so we’re delighted to bring this unique brand of enablement to London.

“Our 12 other hubs which we operate with NatWest have had serious and significant economic impact right across all four nations of the UK. Our businesses have created over 3,000 jobs and landed over £151m in investment. To add London, arguably the world’s greatest business ecosystem, to our disruptive and revolutionary approach is exceptionally exciting. We can’t wait to start making a difference to these constantly inspiring entrepreneurs.”

Barry McCaig, partner at Pinsent Masons, says, “The NatWest Entrepreneurship Monitor results demonstrate exactly why supporting Entrepreneurial Spark is so important. The accelerator programme offers entrepreneurs the chance to develop the skills and mindset required to overcome the concerns identified in the research, allowing them to focus on building their businesses and creating jobs.

“That is why Pinsent Masons partnered with Entrepreneurial Spark in 2016, and why we are so excited to see the London Hub finally opening. The potential of bringing the knowledge and expertise of Entrepreneurial Spark and their partners together with so many talented entrepreneurs in the heart of London is incredible, and we can’t wait to see what we can achieve.”

Ben McDonald, UK head of KPMG Enterprise, added: “We’re pleased to be supporting Entrepreneurial Spark, NatWest and the other partners in the launch of the London hub. The research conducted by NatWest is a reminder that the entrepreneurial journey is rarely smooth, but those ambitious businesses that combine a founder’s hunger with a desire and willingness to learn and seek support remain the most likely to succeed, both in London and around the country. KPMG Enterprise is working with entrepreneurs that display these attributes to secure finance, scale their businesses quickly and realise their ambitions.”

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

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