Revealed: The Top 10 Cities in the UK to Start a Business in 2023

2 mins read

Key Takeaways:

  • Manchester secures the top spot as the best city in the UK to start a new business, followed closely by London and Sheffield.
  • Independent digital agency Dark Horse conducted a study, considering criteria such as quality of life, transport, education, internet connectivity, and the rate of new business.
  • The North of England emerges as a promising region for entrepreneurs, with four cities in the top 10 list.
  • The data highlights that effective investment and opportunities can drive business growth and contribute to thriving cities across the UK.


The UK business sector has faced numerous challenges in recent years, including Brexit, general elections, the global pandemic, and rising living costs. However, despite these pressures, entrepreneurs throughout the country are undeterred, as evidenced by the record number of new businesses established in the first 12 weeks of 2023. To determine the best place to launch a new venture in the UK, independent digital agency Dark Horse conducted a comprehensive study. Factors such as quality of life, transport, education, internet connectivity, and the rate of new business were considered. The results unveil the top 10 cities for starting a business in 2023.

Manchester Takes the Lead

Manchester, often referred to as the unofficial “Second City of the UK,” secures the top spot as the best city to start a new business with an impressive overall score of 90. The city’s vibrant ecosystem, robust infrastructure, and growing opportunities contribute to its success as an entrepreneurial hub. The ranking highlights Manchester’s commitment to nurturing innovation and supporting business growth.

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London and Sheffield: Close Contenders

London, traditionally considered the business powerhouse of the UK, closely follows Manchester in second place with a score of 92. The capital city’s diverse business landscape and extensive networking opportunities continue to attract entrepreneurs from various industries. Sheffield, one of the fastest-rising cities in the North, secures the third position with a score of 93, reflecting its growing reputation as a thriving business center.

The North Emerges as a Strong Contender

The study reveals that the North of England is a serious contender for launching new businesses. Four cities from the region feature in the top 10 list, emphasizing the growing opportunities and favorable conditions for entrepreneurs. In addition to Manchester and Sheffield, Birmingham secures the fourth position, highlighting its position as the best place to set up a business in the Midlands. Glasgow ranks fifth overall and is recognized as the top city in Scotland, while Cardiff takes the seventh spot, representing the best city for starting a business in Wales.

Criteria Used to Determine the Rankings

Dark Horse’s study employed various data sources, including the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Numbeo, the Fair Internet Report, and the Department for Transport, to evaluate UK cities. The analysis considered crucial criteria such as quality of life, the rate of new businesses opened, internet quality, local education, transport services, and Gross Value Added (GVA).

Unlocking Potential Across the UK

James Maxfield, data expert at Dark Horse, explains that the business landscape has evolved significantly, and location is no longer the sole determinant of success. He emphasizes that investment in infrastructure, talent acquisition, culture, and the digital age has made it possible to establish businesses anywhere in the UK. The study demonstrates the immense potential for businesses to thrive across the country. Effective investment and opportunities can drive business growth, leading to the prosperity of cities nationwide.

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The Top 10 Cities to Start a Business in the UK

The rankings reveal the best cities in the UK for entrepreneurs to start their ventures:

  1. Manchester (Overall Score: 90)
  2. London (Overall Score: 92)
  3. Sheffield (Overall Score: 93)
  4. Birmingham (Overall Score: 100)
  5. Glasgow (Overall Score: 111)
  6. Brighton and Hove (Overall Score: 116)
  7. Cardiff (Overall Score: 120)
  8. Liverpool (Overall Score: 127)
  9. Luton (Overall Score: 131)
  10. Leeds (Overall Score: 137)

These cities offer a favorable environment, ample opportunities, and the potential for business success.


Dark Horse’s study highlights the top 10 cities in the UK to start a business in 2023. Manchester claims the coveted first position, closely followed by London and Sheffield. The study emphasizes the promising business landscape in the North of England, with four cities ranking among the top 10. The results affirm that effective investment, infrastructure, and opportunities are essential for fostering business growth and enabling cities to thrive. Entrepreneurs across the UK have a wealth of options when choosing a location to launch their ventures, as evidenced by the diverse cities featured in the ranking. With the right support and resources, businesses can flourish, contributing to the overall economic prosperity of the nation.

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