– the UK’s no.1 online resource for starting a business – has ranked Bristol the number one city in England to start a business in its annual Start-up Cities Index.

Second only to Edinburgh in the whole of the UK, the city was commended not only for its impressive business survival rates but the city as a whole – including its innovative transport infrastructure, its quality of life which has seen it repeatedly ranked as the number 1 city to live in the UK and its thriving Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone – which is home to over 350 businesses and situated directly next to Bristol Temple Meads Railway Station – making it the perfect environment to grow a business from startup to international corporate.

“Bristol is brilliant, super collaborative and the network is incredible”


As many of the most successful Bristol-based startups know, there’s almost endless support in the city, in the form of top tech startup incubators, inspiring places to co-work and world-class events and conferences that encourage networking and collaboration such as VR World Congress, the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs, Venturefest and TEDxBristol.

Gareth Williams (pictured left), who has made a huge success out of his virtual supercomputer startup YellowDog, tells us: “The tech and creative cluster here in Bristol is brilliant, super collaborative and the network is incredible. Business success, I believe, thrives on collaboration – customers, suppliers, partners. Bristol has that in spades.”

YellowDog, in its early days, made use of the SETsquared university business incubator – which is rated number one in the world – along with Paul Archer who founded tech startup Duel in 2015 which now has huge brands on board including Bristol-based YouTube stars The Yogscast, Unilever and the O2 Arena.

“[Bristol’s] the perfect location to test businesses ideas and perfecting business models before scaling”


Paul (pictured right) says: “It was where the Pervasive Media Studio and Engine Shed were based, both of whom supported us in the early years. It’s also the perfect location to test businesses ideas and perfecting business models before scaling.

“Being based in Bristol has allowed us to hire a great technical team of loyal and talented individuals as well as getting access to great support from SETsquared and similar.”

Dr. Zara Nanu (pictured left), who moved to Bristol from California 10 years ago and fell in love with the city, also recently made the move to kick start her business – Gapsquare – which is working on closing the gender pay gap.

Sharing her experience, she says: “Bristol has a lively ecosystem with just the right balance of tech start ups and ethical and sustainable business, providing a platform for sharing ideas and thought leadership. It’s so easy to make connections and everybody is so friendly and helpful.”

In with the new

As well as well-seasoned startups, Bristol is constantly bringing in and nurturing new entrepreneurial talent.

YENA for example, a network aimed at encouraging young entrepreneurs, was founded in Bristol and has been such as success it can now be found in several UK cities.

“It is easy to find highly skilled, ambitious co-founders”


James Courtney at the Innovation centreJames Courtney (pictured right), a YENA member, finalist at the SPARKies tech awards and founder of fine-dining rewards app LUX, tells us: “I recently graduated from the University of Bath. The quality of graduates from universities in this area, especially those with tech and business skills, means that it is easy to find highly skilled, ambitious co-founders.”

And it’s true that a lot of the startup success in Bristol and the South West stems from its universities. Ultrahaptics which creates tech that allows you to ‘touch’ objects in mid-air, was born out of University of Bristol Computer Science student Tom Carter’s university project and is now a rapidly growing company with international clients and investor backing in the millions.

More recently Inductosense, another Bristol University startup spin-out, raised £1.1m to develop its compact ultrasonic sensors that detect corrosion and defects.

Of course, there’s no hesitation from these entrepreneurs when it comes to others looking for advice for getting a business started in Bristol. Zara exclaims: “Just do it!”

To check out the full Bristol report, and the other cities listed on the index, check out the Start-up Cities Index 2017 website

Alice Whale