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Reading ranked as the best place to start and grow a business in the UK

High rate of start-ups and businesses, including 11,000 digital and tech firms, and its population diversity are among the factors boosting the Berkshire town’s entrepreneurial credentials.

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Businesses in the UK town of Reading cover a range of sectors including AI and fintech
Businesses in the UK town of Reading cover a range of sectors including AI and fintech

The UK town of Reading in Berkshire has been assessed as having the greatest potential to become the number-one entrepreneurial hotspot in Britain.

 

The Great British Enterprise report by digital transformation specialist Atos looks at how the local economies of 43 towns and cities perform on six indicators that influence the success of entrepreneurship and enterprise (such as skills levels and diversity) and on measures that represent positive entrepreneurial and enterprising outcomes (such as business survival rates).

 

Reading topped the ranking as having all the ingredients to start and grow a business, followed by Brighton & Hove, Cambridge, Cheltenham and Oxford.

 

Digital Society campaign

 

The report marks the launch of Atos’ new Digital Society campaign, exploring themes such as innovation, skills and sustainability, and setting out how technology can be the driving force for positive social change.

 

Reading came in the top five places in Britian for four of the six indicators, including:

  • over 50 per cent of the population are highly skilled with a NVQ level 4 qualification or higher (equivalent qualification between A-level and undergraduate degree)
  • it has a high rate of start-ups and existing businesses, including 11,000 digital and technology firms covering a range of sectors such as artificial intelligence and fintech
  • an ethnically diverse location, with the World Economic Forum highlighting that greater population diversity has a positive effect on entrepreneurship.

“Many global businesses have chosen Reading to set up their UK headquarters, but it is also essential that new home-grown businesses are encouraged to develop and thrive. We have a highly skilled workforce and a diverse, ambitious population – the essential elements for a successful enterprise, whatever its scale,” said Councillor Jason Brock, leader of Reading Borough Council.

 

“It is vital that local authorities like ours work with the business community to help create the best possible environment for small businesses to grow and to enable enterprising people of all backgrounds to be able to recognise their potential.”

 

Entrepreneurial and enterprising outcomes can vary significantly within a town or city’s local economy, as well as between the local economies of different towns and cities.

 

The research also estimates that the British economy would benefit by £34 billion a year by 2030 if the local economies of towns and cities realised their full entrepreneurial potential over the next decade. Other key findings included:

  • local economies that have most unrealised potential are the ones that could benefit most from digital adoption
  • entrepreneurial and enterprising outcomes can vary significantly within a town or city’s local economy, as well as between the local economies of different towns and cities.

Digital testbeds

 

The report states that more needs to be done to encourage the adoption and use of digital technology and points to a number of policies which could be taken forward, such as the creation of digital enterprise zones within towns or cities. These could be testbeds for the early adoption of future digital technology such as 5G mobile networks and full-fibre broadband.

 

It also recommends ’recalibrating’ local business support on improving digital capability so that local enterprise partnerships can help start-ups to maintain and grow their web presence, make better use of cloud computing and digitise back-office functions such as payroll.

 

Last year Atos developed the concept of Enterprise Accounts, a digital platform that aggregates and personalises information, advice and guidance for entrepreneurs and growing small and micro-businesses. The Enterprise Account would contain locally tailored advice on where to find mentors, financing options and accountancy and legal advice as well as how to understand tax implications of setting up a business.

 

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