Reading: Town is number 1 entrepreneurial hotspot

Reading has all the ingredients to become the best place to start and grow a business, according to a new report which, for the first time, assesses the entrepreneurial potential of towns and cities across Great Britain.

The Berkshire town tops the list of ‘entrepreneurial spearheads’ compiled by a former Bank of England economist for Atos, a global leader in digital transformation. The Great British Enterprise report marks the launch of Atos’ new ‘Digital Society’ campaign, exploring themes such as innovation, skills and sustainability, and setting out how technology can be the driving force for positive social change.

The research estimates that the British economy would benefit to the tune of £34 billion a year by 2030 if the local economies of towns and cities were to realise their full entrepreneurial potential over the next decade. The report also finds that:

  • Local economies that have most unrealised potential are the ones that could benefit most from digital adoption.
  • Entrepreneurial and enterprising outcomes can vary significantly within a town or city’s local economy, as well as between the local economies of different towns and cities

The analysis looked at how the local economies of 43 towns and cities across Great Britain perform on six indicators that influence the success of entrepreneurship and enterprise (such as skills levels and diversity) and on measures that represent positive entrepreneurial and enterprising outcomes (such as business survival rates).

The top 5 places with the most entrepreneurial potential are:

  1. Reading
  2. Brighton & Hove
  3. Cambridge
  4. Cheltenham
  5. Oxford

Among those areas with bags of potential and that can make the biggest leaps forward are Liverpool and Newport, both of which feature in the lower grouping overall but were in the top tier for new business start-ups.

Reading came in the top five places in Great Britain for four of the six indicators including:

  • Over 50% of the population are highly skilled with a NVQ level 4 qualification or higher (equivalent qualification between A-level and undergraduate degree)
  • It has a high rate of start-ups and existing businesses including 11,000 digital and technology firms covering a range of sectors including Artificial Intelligence and Fintech
  • An ethnically diverse location, with the World Economic Forum highlighting that greater population diversity has a positive effect on entrepreneurship

Jason Brock, leader of Reading Borough Council, said: “Many global businesses have chosen Reading to set up their UK headquarters, but it is also essential that new home-grown businesses are encouraged to develop and thrive. We have a highly skilled workforce and a diverse, ambitious population – the essential elements for a successful enterprise, whatever its scale.

“It is vital that local authorities like ours work with the business community to help create the best possible environment for small businesses to grow and to enable enterprising people of all backgrounds to be able to recognise their potential.”