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Best Place To Start A Small Business In The UK 2018: 5. Cambridge

We’re into the top five countdown of Informi’s annual Best Place To Start A Small Business In The UK, and on Wednesday 14 November we will reveal which location has taken the coveted crown. 

But first comes fifth. Cambridge only has a population of around 131,000 but has an excellent reputation as a technological hub. In addition, of course, your business would have access to the highest calibre of potential employees given the presence of the world-renowned Cambridge University, which dominates the small city.


Why is Cambridge a good place to start a business?

It will come as no surprise that Cambridge’s success in our study is generally down to its highly skilled workforce and the city’s digital connectivity. Cambridge comes out top in the whole nation for skills – exactly two-thirds of its population has a qualification of at least NVQ Level 4, six per cent more than its nearest rivals in this category, which is of course Oxford. 

In addition, 93% of the city has ultrafast broadband – with only Worthing and Luton boasting better connections. 

Cambridge offers great links to London – but businesses are able to establish themselves on their own merits, with the University offering programmes which themselves help startups to network and find funding opportunities. A 2016 Glassdoor list put Cambridge at the top of best UK places to work in. 



Big names at home in Cambridge

Where can Cambridge improve?

As advanced as Cambridge is in the tech world, it has prohibitive property prices for any small business wishing to set up in the area. The average house price in Cambridge is over £505,000, costing 15.3 times the average annual salary – beaten only by Oxford and London, and even then by fairly narrow margins.

Clearly, launching a business based around a new invention, with Cambridge topping the charts for, comes with risk. And that may explain why a number of these businesses have died off. There were over 50 business closures per 10,000 population in 2016, the most recent figures available, with only 13 locations having a higher rate.


At home in Cambridge

Vishal Chatrath is Chief Executive of, an artificial intelligence (IA) company based in Cambridge. The business is developing a ‘principled’ decision-making platform across a variety of sectors including logistics, finance and smart cities. 

“In my experience, Silicon Valley is 10% tech and 90% hype, while Cambridge is exactly the opposite,” says Vishal. 

“As an entrepreneur, I wanted to bring world-changing technology to market. The way to do that is to make something which has never existed before and create the science behind it. Cambridge, with its rich history of mathematicians, has the kind of scientific ambition to do just that.

“The company has been expanding at an incredible rate, and I think this is something that can only happen in Cambridge.”

Tomorrow we will find out who has just missed out on a podium spot as we reveal who has finished fourth in our Best Places list. Watch this space!


The Top 10 Best Places To Start A Business In The UK 2018


  UK town/city
5. Cambridge
6. Slough
7. Reading
8. Bristol
9. Aldershot
10. Warrington


For a comprehensive guide to getting your business up and running, download our how to start a business in 20 days ebook

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