A tale of three cities: setting up outside London
London is the UK’s natural magnet for new business, attracting more than 800 foreign direct investment projects every year – more than 3 times any other region. But with sky-high rents and inflated wages threatening to diminish the capital’s appeal as a destination, we look at three alternative options that deliver more bang per buck.
Located on England’s south-west coast, Bristol had long been Britain’s second wealthiest city as one of England’s largest trading ports. In recent decades, the 8th largest city in the UK has swapped tea for terrabytes, being recognised as the UK’s most advanced ‘smart city’, a leader in providing 5G connectivity and utilising big data to improve public services . It is now a powerhouse in the creative industries and also boasts a large aerospace sector. The city was named the Sunday Times best in which to live in both 2014 and 2017, and it was named winner of the Green Capital Award by the EU in 2015.
Home of the world famous University, Cambridge has a bookish reputation and old-world charm, but behind the academic image is a serious business hotspot to rival technology hubs in the US. ‘Silicon Fen’, as the area has become known, is home to some of Europe’s most exciting technology startups and established companies like ARM Holdings and Dante – turning over more than £35bn between them all. Fuelled by some of the world’s top graduates, excellent links to London, and collaboration between businesses and the University, companies in Fen have seen an annual growth regularly top 7.5%.
Scotland’s capital is world famous as a cultural hub, home to some of the most famous comedy, music and drama festivals, but since the 1980s it has also developed a strong tech sector. As one point of the Scottish ‘tech triangle’ along with Dundee and Glasgow, the city is home to a number of high-tech companies in sectors from semi-conductors to video games. As an added bonus, Edinburgh has the cheapest office space of any major UK city, an eighth the price of London – clocking in at just £66.1 per square foot .