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South East is entrepreneurial heartland with Brighton & Hove on top, finds YFM

The Business Magazine article image for: South East is entrepreneurial heartland with Brighton & Hove on top, finds YFM
12 February 2024

The South East has emerged as the largest contributor to the UK’s entrepreneur economy among 12 regions analysed in a recent report from YFM Equity Partners.

Published in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the report found that the South East alone is home to 17 per cent of the UK’s entrepreneurial SMEs, contributing a total of £149 billion to the economy – £30 billion more than London.

The region enjoys close proximity to the capital with a well-developed transport network, including Britain’s two busiest airports in Heathrow and Gatwick.

And its entrepreneurial dominance looks set to continue, says YFM, as remote working gains in popularity and people begin to relocate out of London.

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The South East also ranks third in business creation and fourth in the number of patents filed in 2022.

If there’s one place that best exemplifies this founding spirit, it’s Brighton & Hove – the highest performing city for entrepreneurialism in the whole of the UK.

The city boasts the second highest number of active businesses per 100,000 adults (7,447), the third highest business survival rate (44 per cent) and the fourth highest business births out of the UK’s 30 largest cities (by business population).

It’s also a hotspot for founders, with nearly one in six adults classing themselves as self-employed.

Brighton & Hove was joined on the list by the Gatwick Diamond and Milton Keynes, who each placed highly for entrepreneurialism.

As for the South East more broadly, while the region is second only to London in its use of private equity financing, YFM argues that it still fails to attract its fair share of professional capital investment given its major contribution to the entrepreneur economy.

The company found that more than a third of South East entrepreneurs are still bootstrapping to grow their business with personal savings, and one in four said finding the right investors proved a barrier to accessing finance.

Efforts have been made to address these issues, including by charities such as Central Arc Angels, which brings together founders and investors.

Initiatives like this have helped to lend a positive outlook to the region’s entrepreneurs despite obstacles to finance, with 74 per cent expecting to see their revenues grow this financial year and 51 per cent expecting to see more entrepreneurship in the future.

And they have good reason to be optimistic, the report concludes, as CEBR predicts that over the next five years the South East will see the second highest rate of growth (8.5 per cent) among all 12 regions analysed.

Read more - UK remains leading centre for film and TV production despite industry challenges


Born and raised in Berkshire, Dan fell into journalism after completing his bachelor’s degree in English at UCL.

Writing for The Business Magazine and local Biz News sites has given him the opportunity to chat with all manner of small business owners and share their success stories with a wider audience.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys live music, board games and quiz shows, and is making a slow but persistent effort to learn Spanish.

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