Plymouth is a top 10 place for business when you’re starting out according to recent research by  Their research shows that businesses starting up in in Plymouth have an advantage over those anywhere else in the South West. The nationwide study placed Plymouth in 9th place, ahead of cities many times the size. Locations that ranked lower than Plymouth included London, Bristol and Portsmouth.

Why are we better?

Business experts from online magazine Startups Geek found that Plymouth was the best location to start a business in the entire South West of the UK. Plymouth scored well in the analysis due to criteria including fast internet speed and low start-up business costs. We know that Plymouth is also great place to start social purpose businesses as it boosts the highest level of specialised support and place based funding in the UK. Not to mention that it was the flagship SEUK Social Enterprise City and has the oldest and most active social enterprise network in the South West. Over the past 5 years the number of social enterprises has grown by over 33%.


Free start up support in the city comes in a range of guises including workshops, long term learning programmes, mentoring, start up grants, community funding pots, 1-1 guidance sessions and more. When starting a business it can be very daunting and we know that. The start up support offered covers all of those challenges, supporting entrepreneurs over the hurdles and into making a real difference to their communities. It’s negotiated for and delivered by ourselves, POP+ and other fantastic organisations such as School for Social Entrepreneurs, Cosmic cic and Real Ideas Organisation and funded by large scale partners like PCC, The Rank Foundation, Esmee Fairburne, Power to Change and others.

London, which unsurprisingly has the highest ratio of SMEs per population, was ranked 27th on the list. Despite low internet costs and a large pool of talent from its 24 universities; high salaries, office space costs and survival rate of 39% pushed it down. We think that Plymouth is a top 10 for business start ups in part because Plymouth has a good graduate retention rate. All three of it’s Higher Education institutions are social enterprises who understand the challenges. That, alongside the start up support and some great social purpose incubator and business landlords and co-working spaces in the city. Organisations like Millfields Trust, ThinqTanq and Real ideas organisation helps create a space space for these SMEs to test ideas and make it safely through the difficult first days of their business. You can find out more about these businesses in our online directory here.

The Pandemic

It seems that the global pandemic dramatically affected Brits thoughts on wanting to become their own boss. Another study found 20 per cent of people were considering starting their own business or taking on a side job during the lockdown. The number of new businesses registered in Wales alone from April to July was just 10.7% lower than the same period in 2019 – with the equivalent figures for the past two months actually higher. In addition, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Wales reported an increase in inquiries from people looking to become self-employed. But many may be put off by their location and Start Up Geeks’ study aims to help potential entrepreneurs make an informed decision on which city to start a business. WE are very pleased to have then recognise Plymouth as a top 10 for business start ups.

Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said:

“It goes without saying that we think Plymouth is a brilliant place to start a business and we really embrace entrepreneurial spirit. Physically we’re located in an enviable position, sandwiched between the incredible south coast and Dartmoor National Park, which means living here offers a really unique work-life balance with all the benefits of a major city and plenty of blue-green space to enjoy right on our doorstep.

“From a logistical perspective, Plymouth has fairly low start-up costs which naturally makes it appealing. There’s also great internet coverage and speeds and we’ve recently begun the roll out of a £2.2 million ultrafast fibre broadband network, extending access to full fibre networks and making it much easier for businesses to connect in future. On top of this, our city has a network of large organisations such as the Council, two universities and the local NHS trust which are all keen to collaborate and innovate and really see the value in working with local businesses to do so.”

As the UK business community attempts to navigate the impact of the first global pandemic in recent history, we are pleased to be a part of such a positive business community and we are proud of the way Plymouth is pulling together through these difficult times. Many thanks to Start Up Geeks for their work producing the report and helping put together this article, you can read the full report here.

Plymouth Social Enterprise Network