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Swindon and Wiltshire tops regional start-ups league – report

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Swindon and Wiltshire leads the way in the formation of business start-ups in the South West, according to a new report.

The UK Local Growth Dashboard 2018, published by the Enterprise Research Centre, suggests Swindon and Wiltshire has the highest rate of new firm creation in the South West.

Its rate of 62 firms created per 10,000 population is well above the national average of 50.

The fastest growing firms are in the Bristol area – for start-ups reaching £1m-plus turnover within three years, West of England LEP leads the region, with 1.9 percent of firms.

The pattern is repeated for established firms scaling up from turnover of £1m-£2m to £3m+ within three years.

But other areas in the South West fare less well – with Heart of the South West LEP – covering Devon and Somerset – and Cornwall having some of the lowest rates in the country.

The research also showed there were 4,402 new registered businesses in Swindon and Wiltshire in 2017, with more than half (58 percent) of firms started in 2014 surviving their first three years.

1.8 percent of surviving start-ups grew reached a £1m-plus turnover by or after their third anniversary. 7.5 percent of businesses with a turnover of betwen £1m and £2m grew to a minimum of £3m between 2014 and 2017.

The UK’s 5.7m SMEs constitute over 99 percent of businesses, employing more than 16m people and have a combined annual turnover of £1.9trn, 51 percent of all private sector output.

Professor Mark Hart, deputy director of the ERC – the UK’s leading source of independent research on the growth of SMEs – said: “Our findings show a complex geography which challenges some of the preconceptions about the ‘hotspots’ of business growth across the UK.

“What’s clear is that there are pockets of SME dynamism right across the country and it’s not as simplistic as either a North-South or urban-rural split.

"That being said, it’s also true that firms in some parts of the country face more of a struggle to scale up and grow their productivity.

“The challenge now for policymakers is to learn the lessons of what’s working at local level so that we spread best practice right across the country.

“This is especially important as the UK prepares for Brexit to help mitigate any shock to local economies.”

The report looked at the years 2014 to 2017, and drew data from the Office of National Statistics, HM Revenue and Customs and other government agencies.