Business and Enterprise Case Studies

Cities play an important role in supporting enterprise and innovation

A collection of case studies looking at how cities in the UK and beyond are taking steps to support firms, enterprise and innovation.

Case study library

Supporting businesses to thrive

UK cities account for only 9 per cent of land in the UK, but around three fifths of all jobs and business start-ups. All cities can play an important role in supporting enterprise and innovation, but our research shows that some UK cities are much more attractive locations to do business than others. Here, we have collected case studies of how different cities in the UK and internationally are taking steps to become more attractive for innovative and high-skilled firms, by increasing the pool of skilled labour and providing high quality physical and digital infrastructure.

These case studies reflect how cities have sought to make improvements to the different challenges and present their self-reported outcomes. These are intended to help cities to approach their own similar policy challenges. To find out more about the specific impact on local economic growth for similar programmes and interventions, the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth offers a number of rigorous policy evaluations, and policy design guides in areas such as Business Advice, Innovation and Area-Based Initiatives.

Advanced Manufacturing

Some cities have become innovation districts for advanced manufacturing, combining applied research and R&D to traditional industries and carving out competitive advantages in high-tech, bespoke and complex processes. To make the most of the growth that can result from this, cities should focus on supporting existing businesses and attracting new businesses, and take an evidence-based approach to evaluating what advanced manufacturing companies across the whole supply chain need to grow and innovate.

City centre regeneration

City centres play a fundamental role in the economies of UK cities. Businesses gain from the proximity (or agglomeration) that city centres offer through sharing infrastructure, the ability to recruit from a larger labour pool and the ability to share ideas and information. To encourage this process, cities can boost the attractiveness of their city centre, for example by relocating employment to the centre, attracting firms through incentives, and providing good transport and infrastructure.

Low carbon economy

A low carbon economy can offer financial as well as environmental returns to cities. Despite lacking a clear mandate and operating in difficult financial and policy contexts, UK cities are taking action to support economic growth while reducing their carbon emissions. This can be done in many different ways: by pursuing jobs growth in low carbon sectors, working with businesses to reduce energy demand and consumption, providing finance and incentives, and promoting regulations. 

Low Carbon Case Studies

Find out the ways cities are creating a low carbon economy in our case study library

Case study library 20 Sep 2017
Delivering change: low carbon

Edward Clarke, Zach Wilcox and Nada Nohrová

Practical policy solutions for city leaders to encourage the green economy

Report 17 Dec 2013

Office space

City centre office space supports high-skill, exporting activity in local economies. Policy-makers have intervened in the market for commercial space to allow this valuable activity to take place in the local economy, while avoiding risk and speculative projects based on “build-and-they-will come” reasoning.

Commercial Property - Data by City

Find out what the make-up of commercial property is in your city, to help you think through how to support business and commercial property improvements.

Go to the data dashboard

University and business collaborations

Knowledge-intensive businesses and services are significant drivers of growth, and are increasingly based in urban areas. For many UK cities, universities provide their greatest concentration of knowledge and innovation, so national and local decision makers are increasingly looking to support collaborations between universities and high-growth firms. Cities can encourage this by building cross-border networks, investing in local strengths, taking advantage of their history and brand and anchoring relationships through large firms. 

Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

SMEs, particularly those in the most innovative sectors, are important drivers of employment and output growth. An efficient business support system, which is easy to navigate, evaluate and manage is essential to facilitate the creation and prosperity of businesses. Publicly-funded initiatives such as business advice, improved access to finance and funding, and knowledge exchange and innovation, can help cities attract new businesses and improve private-sector performance, particularly for SMEs. 

City deals and skills

Naomi Clayton and Louise McGough

How have City and Local Growth Deals supported the development of employment and skills policies that reflect local demand?

Report 2 Jul 2015

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