Small Business Outlook 2015

Our annual health check of small and medium sized businesses across the UK's 64 largest cities.

Report published on 19 October 2015 by Centre for Cities

This year’s Small Business Outlook focuses on the growth in recent years of ‘new work’ SMEs in cities – highly-skilled, innovative firms in sectors such as the creative, digital and professional industries. Not only are these businesses growing much faster than businesses in traditional industries, they also have a big impact on the wider city economy by increasing demand and jobs in other sectors such as service-based businesses, retail and leisure.

The infographics below summarise the impact ‘new work’ SMEs have on city economies, and some of the disparities to be found between cities across the country:


Click through these slides for a quick introduction to the findings of the report:

In the lead-up to the report, Senior Analyst Naomi Clayton made four short films on how Cambridge, Bristol, Leeds and Glasgow are supporting SMEs in new work sectors. You can watch all four on youtube here.

Mayor George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said:

I am delighted to have this opportunity to contribute to this year’s Centre for Cities’ Small Business Outlook report.

Small businesses have been fundamental to Bristol’s success and will continue to play a crucial role contributing to our vibrant economy and an increasingly prominent international profile, that reflects our strong cultural heritage and bustling mix of communities.

One sure way to mitigate future challenges is to encourage, wherever possible, the sharing of information and ideas. This spirit of collaboration is arguably best exemplified in Bristol’s creative, digital and professional services sectors – the main focus of this year’s report – where businesses come together in facilities like the highly successful Engine Shed incubator, a partnership between city and university, to explore and develop new ideas and maximise the opportunities afforded by technological progress.

Our year as European Green Capital culminates in the Bristol Festival of the Future City this year. You can be sure our energetic small business community will play a central role in the debate that will determine our direction and make a vital contribution to a resilient future.

Antoinette Jackson, Chief Executive of Cambridge City Council, said:

The publications produced by Centre for Cities are essential reading for all of us who are working to support our cities to grow and maximise their potential.  They provide good data and strong analysis in an accessible format that help focus attention on the things that really make a difference.

Centre for Cities’ Small Business Outlook 2015 is no different. It demonstrates both the importance of our SMEs to our national economy and, like our cities themselves, their wide variety.

The Cambridge cluster has been built on innovation and collaboration, academic excellence and entrepreneurial spirit. But this is only one model of SME development. What this publication underlines is that there are many others and that cities can thrive in different ways. But what all SMEs and their cities need in place to flourish includes a high skills base, good connectivity and international trade links.

Centre for Cities would like to thank Zurich Insurance plc for their support of Small Business Outlook.

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