Start-up business is booming as city proves to be a vibrant hub

Raisly, the winners of the Start-up Business of the Year award at The News Business Excellence Awards on Friday Picture: Habibur Rahman (170240-39)
Raisly, the winners of the Start-up Business of the Year award at The News Business Excellence Awards on Friday Picture: Habibur Rahman (170240-39)
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MORE new businesses formed in Portsmouth than anywhere else in the Solent region in 2016, making the city a vibrant hub for start-ups.

The figures also show that more new companies were registered in Hampshire during 2016 than in any previous year – bringing the total to more than 100,000 companies based in the county for the first time.

In terms of new businesses, 14,249 were registered in the county compared with 13,779 in 2015.

The number of registered companies in Hampshire now totals 103,043, up from 98,825 at the end of 2015, which equates to 4.3 per cent growth.

The statistics come from the Inform Direct Review of UK Company Formations, using data from Companies House and the Office of National Statistics.

Portsmouth formed the most new businesses (2,264), followed by Southampton (1,934) and Winchester (1,248).

John Korchak, director of operations at Inform Direct said: ‘These figures underline the positive entrepreneurial culture that fosters new company formations and drives economic growth.

‘So far, at least, we’re seeing no evidence that Brexit has dented confidence among those considering starting up in business.

‘Hampshire again delivered an impressive number of new companies in 2016 – more than in any previous year – demonstrating that it offers a fertile environment for new businesses to spring up and prosper.

‘The total number of companies also passed the 100,000 milestone for the first time.’ Across the UK, there were a record-breaking 664,720 companies formed – up from 612,565 in 2015.

The number of UK companies now stands at 3,962,909.

Of the 601,418 formations in England, 209,869 were in London, 35,502 companies were in Scotland, 15,795 in Wales and 7,389 in Northern Ireland.

These statistics have been backed by a report from the Centre for Entrepreneurship in Portsmouth, which showed Portsmouth is the place to start a business.

Pete Hooley, director of business development at the University of Portsmouth Business School, said: ‘In 2016 Portsmouth had more small businesses start up than any other area in the Solent. A whopping 2,264 – more than double the mean average of its neighbouring local authorities.

‘However it’s not all about the sheer volume, Portsmouth also created more new businesses per head of population 10.5 per 1,000 head of population compared to a mean average of 7.8 from its neighbours.

‘This is in stark opposition to only 584 registered new businesses in 2014, Portsmouth has really come a long way.’

He said Portsmouth’s success had come from new ideas and technology.

‘In short, Portsmouth has the infrastructure, the community and the ideas with a healthy mix of service, brand new and market disruptive ideas,’ he said.

He also said the boom was due to the ‘rich business support community’ such as projects like Innovation Space, Technopole and Port 57.

Mr Hooley said: ‘There’s significant business support in the city and wider region with major investment in services such as the Solent Growth Hub, the chamber of commerce and growth organisations such as Oxford Innovation to name a few.

‘An island city also has its advantages, population proximity and a thriving social scene helps people get together throw around ideas and gain the confidence to disrupt existing and new markets.’

The news has been welcomed by Portsmouth Tory council boss, Donna Jones. She said: ‘Portsmouth has been one of the top cities in the UK for new businesses for the last three years. These new figures are very reassuring at a time when we are moving towards full business rate retention for councils meaning that building the local economy will have a real positive impact on the area.

‘A positive factor is that whether people need good quality, affordable office accommodation or a manufacturing base there are good options to choose from in the city.

‘Our relationship with the University of Portsmouth and its innovation centre is essential to making sure students starting out in business choose to base themselves here rather than move away. The council offers a range of business support and we also do a lot through the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.’

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond also welcomed the news. She said: ‘This is great news.

‘I’m not surprised as Portsmouth has the infrastructure to welcome start ups. There are plenty of opportunities to establish themselves and grow in places like the Innovation Space and Technopole.

‘We are also attracting arts and crafts in Hot Walls, and digital start ups in the Cell Block and a traditional boat building college in the Historic Dockyard. It helps it’s also an amazing place to live.’

Research compiled by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, an annual measure of entrepreneurial activity in 100 countries, showed that when it comes to total early-stage entrepreneurial activity the UK performed better than its European counterparts and is only below the US.

The percentage of the 18-64 population engaged in entrepreneurial activity has fluctuated between eight and 10 per cent. It also found a high level of regard for entrepreneurs in the UK, and optimism about start-ups.