If you were asked to name the best city in the UK for entrepreneurs, you’d probably mention London, Manchester, maybe even Bristol, and with good reason. Birmingham however might not rank highly on your list — if at all. But it absolutely should! The unofficial capital of the Midlands is a rising star in the world of startups, and for those in the know it’s an entrepreneur’s paradise. Let me tell you why…
You’re in good company
If you decide to make Birmingham the home for your startup, you won’t be boldly going where no man (or indeed, woman) has gone before. Brum is home to a huge number of solopreneurs and startups, and it’s growing every day.
Birmingham plays host to more tech startups than any other city in the UK (outside of London). From foodie platform Whisk to activity subscription box Buckt, the city is a fertile playground for innovative minds. Any digital startup worth their salt knows that Birmingham is the place to be right now.
This close-knit community is fostered by Silicon Canal, a volunteer-led organisation that connects and supports Birmingham’s tech startup ecosystem. With a number of networking events, seminars, and plenty of socials, Silicon Canal will make your tech business feel right at home.
It’s undergoing a massive regeneration
As part of its industrial strategy to rejuvenate region economic expansion, the government introduced 24 Enterprise Zones throughout the UK. One such zone is in Birmingham’s city centre, and as a result the city has seen a huge surge in local investment.
Private investors have poured billions of pounds into startups, enterprises, and other businesses, transforming the city. Talented creatives from all over the country are flocking to Brum to join the diverse industries that are making the city their home — creatives that are just angling for a place in your startup.
This regeneration is further bolstered by the development of High Speed 2 (HS2), a railway expansion that will provide fast transport between London, Birmingham, and other significant UK cities.
No longer does a startup need to be in London to be successful. HS2 will shorten journey times massively, with Birmingham just 49 minutes away from the capital and 41 minutes from Manchester. As a result, the city is seeing rapid restoration that is making the city a hub of innovation and change, crackling with possibility.
Office space is affordable (and cool)
Are you tired of grim, grey high-rise office blocks? Ever feel that you’re working in a Soviet-era housing complex rather than an office building in 2018? Well, rest assured that Birmingham has all your modern office needs.
The city plays host to a growing number of private and community office spaces that repurpose and revamp existing spaces and bring them (tastefully) into the 21st century. And good news for entrepreneurs on a budget: you don’t need to break the bank either.
There’s a huge range of affordable offices that don’t compromise on quality. UrbanWorkSpace are a fine example of a community working space that offers modern, spacious offices with good transport links at very reasonable prices.
And for tech startups looking to emulate Google’s quirky office style while keeping a sense of traditional high-end British decor, Assay Studios brings together the best of both worlds. High-ceilings and wood-panelled drawing rooms nestle side-by-side with dazzlingly bright spaces with lime-green tables and mobile desk spaces.
In Birmingham, you can say goodbye to grey, and hey to great office space.
It’s a beautiful city
A quick history lesson: in terms of its status as a city, Birmingham is fairly young. While it’s existed for more than a thousand years, it really came into its own as a hub of industry during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.
That enterprising spirit carried on for the next 300 years, and as a result, the city is home to a dizzyingly diverse variety of architectural styles. There are medieval buildings such as the Old Crown pub in Deritend, as well as the stunning Baroque masterpiece, St Philip’s Cathedral.
But of course, no mention of Birmingham would be complete without mentioning the exquisite Selfridges Building, part of the Bull Ring shopping centre. The imposing steel structure is an architectural wonder, perfect for impressing visiting clients.
The slightly ‘undiscovered’ feel that Birmingham has makes for some impressive (and interesting) aesthetic locations that are not overdone and cliche. For creative businesses , it’s the perfect place to find creative inspiration in the city’s diverse and varied history and population.
It’s great for digital business
As an entrepreneur who’ll be putting in the hours into their nascent business, it’s important that you do it in a setting you love. If you’re just starting out with your digital business (or if you’re looking for an affordable startup business for sale that you can run online), Birmingham provides a stunning backdrop that will make your workday that bit brighter.
With loads of coworking spaces, great tech infrastructure, and affordable business rates, it’s a great choice for a savvy online entrepreneur. Birmingham is home to some of the best web designers in the UK, so you can be sure your new business will be in safe hands.
It might not have the same edgy reputation as London or New York, but Birmingham is a great place to run a business and enjoy a balanced lifestyle that’s affordable.
Remember that list of best cities in the UK for entrepreneurs I mentioned? You’ll want to throw it out and start again, but this time it’ll only have one name on it. With a strong community of burgeoning startups, attractive and affordable office space, and not to mention a massive regeneration underway, Birmingham is the only name you’ll need to see.
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Victoria Greene works as a brand consultant and freelance writer. Her blog, Victoriaecommerce, is dedicated to helping business owners make the most of all online channels to draw in new and loyal customers.