We’re all familiar with the mantra ‘Location, location, location’ and this holds true when it comes to determining the country’s most business-friendly city. Our analysis of government and third party data has produced some surprising results, not least of which is the revelation that it is not London. In fact, the capital does not even make the top three.

The research investigated which are the ten best UK locations for companies, analysing and ranking important metrics such as start-up survival rate, average office prices and graduate population. Other factors affecting rankings included the cost of office space, cybersecurity breaches and population density.

Together, these considerations determine how each prospective location will affect businesses in terms of talent acquisition, local resources and economic outlay, any one of which could ultimately make the difference between success and failure.

Top 10 cities_Cambridge_400

Cambridge emerged as the overall ‘best UK city for business’, scoring consistently highly on a variety of criteria including start-up survival rate (an impressive 65.2%) and good employment rate (77.6%). However, its worst-performing metrics were average download speed at just 20Mbps and crime rate with 340 incidents per 1,000 residents. Its longstanding rival Oxford took second place while Brighton came in third overall.

London’s relatively poor showing is largely due to high rents – perhaps explaining its ninth place position for start-up survival rate - and the volume of competition.

Top 10 cities_Cyber security_400

It wasn’t all bad news for the capital however, with London emerging as the most resilient location when it came to combating cyber security breaches. With Silicon Roundabout hosting around eight times as many tech firms as anywhere else in the UK, it seems the staff are putting their IT skills to good use and ensuring they have implemented the much-needed robust and reliable cyber defences 21st century businesses demand.

Top 10 cities_York_400

Although southern cities dominated the rankings, when it comes to start-up survival rates, York came out on top thanks in part to funding and mentoring schemes that give organisations the financial help and support that they need to establish themselves in the market. A testament to the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiative, York’s compatriot Leeds was also placed highly, ranking number one when it comes to graduate talent.

However, both Leeds and York took the bottom two places when it came to average internet download speed. Today, having access to a fast and reliable internet connection is extremely important to all businesses – especially now that every organisation is expected to be ‘digital by default’. Although clearly not holding these cities back, this could be an issue that will need to be addressed if the North wishes to fully establish itself as a tech hub, or to compare with more favourably endowed regions of the UK.

Interestingly, it seems that there is no such thing as the perfect location – almost every city that came out on top for one criterion, was subsequently ranked bottom for another, suggesting that there is room for improvement and investment across the whole of the UK.

Commenting on the results, Keith Tilley, EVP ​global sales & customer services management for Sungard AS remarks,

“Our research clearly shows that where there is a strength, there is also a weakness; and with the complex IT landscape facing UK businesses today, it is unrealistic to expect one region to excel on all fronts. In order to succeed in the digital age – where customers across all sectors expect ‘all-time’ access and instant responsiveness – businesses should seek to work with experienced partners to help them identify and plug any gaps they may have.  No matter what city they’re based in.”

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