The 2016 Octopus High Growth Small Business Urban Hub League Table which identifies the UK towns and cities best placed to support high-growth small businesses (HGSBs) has ranked Reading first in respect of economic growth, business dynamism and job creation; sixth as an HGSB-friendly city; and sixth overall behind only London, Manchester, Cardiff, Liverpool and Edinburgh.
An HGSB is defined as a company with more than 20% annual average growth in turnover over three years, and a turnover of between £1 million and £20m. One in eight workers in Reading is employed by a HGSB, and new research proves that such companies can be a force for regional revival.
The 2015 Octopus High Growth Small Business Report highlighted the role HGSBs could play in driving regional growth, addressing the North-South divide and rebalancing the economy. Endorsed by the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, the report made the case for increasing the number of HGSBs by 25% in every region in the next five years, while showing that HGSBs have a disproportionately positive impact on weaker-performing economies.
The placing of Reading sixth as a HGSB-friendly city is based on new research, produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr). This research measures HGSB friendliness in respect of finance, talent and connectivity – criteria based on information provided by HGSBs on what is most important to them when building and growing their companies.
Reading is revealed to be home to 387 HGSBs, and has the highest concentration of HGSBs in its business community. Its only real weakness was deemed to be connectivity and transport in which it ranked only 24th.
Simon Rogerson, CEO of Octopus, said: “We need to ensure that the UK continues to create the best environment to support HGSBs. The Government has done a great job of supporting entrepreneurship in this country but more needs to be done for this tiny group of companies. HGSBs represent less than 1% of UK business, but they are punching well above their weight.”
Rob Wilson, MP for Reading East, commented: “I’m delighted to see that yet another measure says Reading is a great place for business and enterprise. Small businesses employ a huge number of people across the UK and create jobs and growth.”