Leeds on march as incubator for the best firms

The new skyline of Leeds
The new skyline of Leeds
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Leeds has trumped Manchester to become the UK’s fourth biggest incubator of high growth companies, according to a new report out to coincide with the Summit conference for entrepreneurs.

The research examined every local authority in the UK and found that Leeds came in fourth place behind Westminster, Camden and Birmingham.

Manchester was seventh after Barnet and Islington in London. Sheffield came in at twelfth place and Hull in thirteenth, according to research by Trampoline Systems.

​Yorkshire’s fourth ​best achieving local authority was Kirklees. The other top performing Yorkshire authorities were Bradford, the East Riding of Yorkshire, Wakefield, Rotherham, Calderdale and Doncaster.

Charles Armstrong, co-founder of Trampoline, said: “I was delighted that the research confounded the current myth that London is the only place where economic vibrancy is sustainable and that it’s the only place that entrepreneurs should think to come.”

He added that this is a new era for areas that have seen the decline of traditional industries and that cities like Leeds, Sheffield and Hull are now a magnet for technology industries.

He was speaking at the Summit conference in London alongside business heavyweights such as Lord Young, enterprise adviser to David Cameron; David Richards, the co-founder of Sheffield-based software firm WANdisco; Lord Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra Beer; Michael Hayman, the Sheffield-born co-founder of Seven Hills; Paul Lindley, the ​Sheffield-born ​founder of Ella’s Kitchen; Chuka Umunna, shadow secretary of state for business, innovation and skills​;​ and The Duke of York​.

​At the heart of the conference was​ a new report called Growth Britannia, which called for new partnerships between schools and local businesses, a halving of the 60-day window for settling invoices, and a ‘Boris in every city’ – an elected mayor to trumpet leading cities and attract new investment.

​Mr Hayman said: “Historians may well come to refer to 2014 as the year the ​‘​Great Recovery’​ began​ –​ ​a​ time that the extraordinary potential of Britain’s entrepreneurs began to be realised – a new era, the era of ​​Growth Britannia.​​

​“The UK has risen from the depths of recession to become the fastest-growing economy in the G7.

​“​Entrepreneurs have led the way in this transformation: forming businesses in their hundreds of thousands, surging into new markets, and creating vibrant clusters where before there was nothing.​”

Lord Young told the conference that there is little doubt that the growth in the period up to 2008 was largely illusory and founded largely on financial ser-vices.

​He added that the severity of the financial collapse that followed has wrought a transformation in the UK economy.​​

​“Today the business start-up sector has never been healthier, with over one million new firms in the last two years alone​,” he said​.

​“​We now have an economy where 95.5​ per cent​ of firms by number employ fewer than ten people, where each year the number of self-employed creates a new record and surveys show that a majority of school leavers would like to work for themselves in the future.​“

Mr Richards added: “If we are aiming to create more tech firms with the legs to go the distance, then the first thing we need to do is stop looking to Silicon Valley for inspiration.​“​

​He said that t​he UK would have a much better chance of success if​ it​ focused on boosting ​its​ strengths and addressing ​its​ inadequacies rather than trying to produce a ​‘​decaf​’​ copy of California.