Start-up entrepreneur

Start-up entrepreneur

Greater Thames Valley proves a hotbed for entrepreneurs

The region is proving a fertile home for entrepreneurs and innovators with over 36,800 new SMEs launching between 2015 to 2016.

The figures highlighting the scale of SME growth in the region are revealed in a Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) report into the economic impact of the GTV.

Over 249,800 SMEs were based in the Greater Thames Valley in 2016 – up from 212,990 companies in 2015.

This rapid increase bucks the UK trend for SME growth. Greater Manchester and Birmingham and Solihull - a combined region of comparable size – only attracted 9,220 new SMEs in the same period; a quarter of the amount attracted by the Greater Thames Valley.

Key drivers behind the dramatic growth of SME include a strong digital economy, outstanding levels of connectivity across region, and access to a highly-skilled local workforce.

Significant investment is also helping to propel the region’s economic capability. Major investment streams include a £4bn investment programme being spearheaded by Basingstoke and Dean Borough Council; £518m invested by Swindon and Wiltshire LEP to propel local economic growth; while OxLEP oversees a £2.2bn growth programme for Oxfordshire, including £200m of central government funding - which has supported the creation of 40,000 new jobs since 2012.

These investment programmes are boosting the region’s reputation and showcasing a clear, cohesive and collaborative vision for the future, which is proving highly-attractive to SMEs looking to launch in a location that is conducive to growth.

Major developments across the region’s residential, commercial and leisure sectors are also providing small businesses with a boost, while future-proofing the region’s standing as a location with the infrastructure and capability to provide an outstanding home for business.

Tim Smith MBE, chief executive of the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, said: “We’re delighted with the results of this report highlighting the growth of SMEs based across the Greater Thames Valley.

“Businesses based in the GTV benefit from international and local connectivity, outstanding education and research assets, quality housing stock, and high-growth economic hubs.

“This is an area of the UK that is rich with the skills, facilities, and infrastructure that businesses need to thrive, and it is fantastic to see that the region is punching above its weight in attracting and supporting these companies.”

Good transport links are crucial to the success of SMEs, and major national infrastructure schemes, including Heathrow Airport, Crossrail, HS2, Western Access to Heathrow, The Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, and East West Rail are set to build on the region’s already-enviable connectivity.

Meanwhile, the development of flourishing Enterprise Zones at Solent, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Enterprise M3 are attracting innovative, world-leading companies in fast-growing sectors including digital media, 5G and cyber security.

Nick Elphick, Enterprise M3 board member and chair of the Enterprise Zone Steering Group, said: “Enterprise M3 is delighted to be participating in MIPIMUK 2017, as part of the Greater Thames Valley region.

“We have recently invested a further £10m to accelerate the pace of development at EZ³ and this will, no doubt, attract more businesses to the Enterprise M3 area, which aside from London, is already home to the largest concentration of foreign owned companies in the UK.