The first two decades of the twenty-first century have seen the continual growth of a new phenomenon in the business world – the startup. In the UK, 440,600 were launched in 2012, a figure which had risen to 657,790 just four years later. New generations are taking a fresh approach to employment unburdened by traditional structures, and entrepreneurship is more encouraged by governments and society in general. 

Depending on the nature of the startup, location can be an important factor to take into consideration, and a number of cities are attractive prospects for entrepreneurs for various reasons. Established SMEs can also be drawn to more suitable or appealing sites, so office IT relocation is an IT support service to consider.

Top considerations

Naturally, the factors to be considered in the decision-making process are different for every startup, though there are some commonalities. For example, tech startups may prefer to follow a tech community, food delivery startups would be more dependent on a local market, while startups that require skilled employees will need to ensure they are able to find them locally.

For the startups that are web-based and more footloose, the choice of where to locate may be down to lifestyle preferences, cost of living and the kind of startup ecosystem that the city offers. Enterprise initiatives, networks, support and funding that can be found locally can also make a big difference to startups.

In some cities risk appetite can affect the success of a startup community, such as Barcelona or Hong Kong, where real estate is valued over investing in a startup. Another cultural factor is investment horizon, as investors may expect to see immediate returns, rather than a long-term, sustainable investment.


With £5 billion in venture capital funding, London has much more than any other European city, and with around 30% of the UK GDP and as one of the world’s largest financial centres, the capital is the obvious choice for many startups. Due to its financial sector the city is attractive for fintech startups, and it is also second in the world for attracting job-creating foreign investment. However, the cost of living is notoriously high, which can be a limiting factor for startups.

Leeds is one of the country’s largest legal and financial centres, as well as having one of the most mixed economies in terms of varied industries. It has over 6,000 SMEs, which make up over half the employment. It is second only to London for fast-growing firms, and companies have just seen three years of 20% growth in revenues.

Conveniently located close to London and the country’s largest airports, Reading and the Thames valley is an important enterprise centre in the south of England. With a high number of headquarters for British and foreign multinationals, Reading also has a tech company density seven times higher than the national average and a much higher proportion of SMEs than Birmingham and Manchester.

Glasgow is the largest economy in Scotland and has one of the highest rates of GDP per capita in the UK. The city has seen growth in communications, healthcare, bioscience, retail, finance and creative industries, and it has an annual economic growth rate of 4.4%, second only to London.

The world’s first industrialised city, Manchester, is still important for science and engineering, as well as media, music and sports. It is home to MI-IDEA, and accelerator for entrepreneurial innovation, and MediaCityUK. It has seen an increase in business activity since 2010 of 62%, higher than anywhere else in the country, and living costs are 40% lower than London.

A centre for electronics, creative media and aerospace, Bristol was also named a smart city in 2017, along with London, referring to its adoption of smart technology. The city has a 5-year startup survival rate of 44.8%, which is relatively high and has also been ranked as Britain’s most sustainable city. Unfortunately, renting property comes at a higher price than other cities outside of London.


San Francisco and the Bay Area have long been associated with enterprising startups and tech thanks to Silicon Valley, and the area is the largest startup ecosystem in the world. In 2017, San Francisco startups collected $26 billion in venture capital and a quarter of unicorn startups are from Silicon Valley. However, living costs have become very high, in particular for property, and the standards of living do not reflect this. 

The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, has around 800 startups, as well as the headquarters of 170 IT companies. With advanced technology and research & development, Amsterdam has an innovative startup scene. In addition to this, high standards of living, high salaries, fast mobile internet speeds and an average cost of living all make the city an appealing place to live and work.

Singapore has seen recent success as a startup hub, and this is partly due to the government programmes that have been put in place to stimulate the startup economy. Singapore has a top-rated education system, a skilled workforce and access to many emerging and established markets. The city state is new as a startup hub, but is predicted to grow.

Berlin has a thriving startup scene that offers inclusiveness and diversity to entrepreneurs. Businesses that are started in Berlin are able to apply for government funding, find support from investors, and enjoy a creative atmosphere of like-minded people. Loans are also available at low interest rates, and entrepreneurs are not required to be German in order to apply.   

After Web Summit moved to Lisbon from Dublin, the city started to become a tech hub, and new companies in Lisbon are also encouraged by the Startup Voucher initiative that offers a year-long fellowship to 400 entrepreneurs. There is also good access to talent, a low cost of living, a high quality of public transport, and beautiful surroundings.

Cape Town is Africa’s leading tech startup centre, and one of the largest startup ecosystems. It also has the highest number of coworking spaces in the continent. Popular sectors in Cape Town include SaaS, Fintech and ecommerce, the nonprofit, Silicon Cape, supports tech startups. With a low cost of living and diverse talent, startup investment is on the rise. Globally, entrepreneurship is becoming more accepted and encouraged so startups are finding more cities to be suitable homes. However, some cities offer more support than others, though the startup world is in a state of constant flux. Every entrepreneur is constantly looking for new opportunities and new innovations. Great things can be found in the unlikeliest of places, so startups should be careful to consider all options and not miss out on the chance of a lifetime.

See More: 8 Different Funding Options For Startups In India

Abhishek is a startup ninja who has spent his time meeting entrepreneurs and helping them tell their stories efficiently. You can find him biking around in his past time. Based out of New Delhi, he is a geek at heart, gadgets are his toys and internet technology is what keeps him going. Email: