The banking giant’s SME Growth Factors Index saw Bradford top the leader board ahead of Leicester, Coventry Edinburgh and Liverpool.
The index reflects the strength of 12 key growth factors such as business rate relief, infrastructure, broadband speed and labour productivity, which are essential to boosting business productivity and growth.
It is based on analysis of the 20 largest cities by population size across the UK.
Bradford was ranked first overall, reflecting good performances on road infrastructure (the top ranking), job vacancies (the top ranking), commercial rent costs (the top ranking), and business rate relief (the top ranking).
Leicester featured in second place thanks to its strong business survival rate, distance travelled to work and level of business rate relief. Coventry came in third place, with the highest net migration into the city.
Additional Barclays analysis reveals London, Birmingham and Leeds - areas with the highest populations - have seen the highest number of business start-ups over the last six years. In the capital, almost 577,000 start-up businesses have launched since 2012, while Birmingham has seen 45,000 new businesses, and there have been 26,400 in Leeds.
Caroline Pullich, Head of SME for Yorkshire at Barclays Business Banking said: “It’s really encouraging to see that so many areas offering growth potential are outside of London and the South East, particularly with Bradford ranking as the top city across the UK.
“We undertook this study because we support small companies right across the country, and are keen to help more people start and grow businesses wherever opportunities exist. We’re committed to investing in Bradford’s SMEs and entrepreneurs, evidenced through our recent ‘Invest in Bradford’ business roundtable events with local key business people.
“Entrepreneurs do need to consider the market for their particular company, but an environment that supports growth can make a real difference. The growth factors identified by the research can become even more valuable when small companies start looking to scale up and grow, which is something we particularly encourage.”
Yet when it comes to the strength of the growth factors in these cities, the results are less positive. London gives out some of the smallest amounts of business rate relief and has the highest commercial rent costs, appearing 12th on the overall list of 20 cities. Similarly, Birmingham features in 11th place, let down by its road infrastructure and poor quality of life, while Leeds ranks in 18th place, also as a result of its poor road infrastructure.
In comparison, just 16,800 of businesses have started in Bradford since 2012, 13,200 in Coventry, and 15,300 in Leicester - yet they have the strongest growth factors which are key to business productivity and growth.