Number of business start-ups falls in Scotland

A young entrepreneur has insisted Scotland remains 'a great place for start-ups' despite the number of new businesses falling in the last five years.

CodeBase in Edinburgh is home to more than 60 start-ups. Picture: Contributed
CodeBase in Edinburgh is home to more than 60 start-ups. Picture: Contributed

Bank of Scotland figures show that three per cent fewer new firms got off the ground north of the border in November last year, compared to the same month in 2011.

This contrasted with the overall UK figure, which was down by just over 19 per cent.

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Experts said the downward trend was probably due to the “uncertain economic environment”, but described the Scottish data as “encouraging” when set against the figures for south of the border.

Gavin Bell, who launched an digital marketing agency in June 2015, said he was surprised the numbers were down.

The 22-year-old runs Blue Cliff Media, one of more than 60 start-ups based at Edinburgh’s CodeBase tech incubator.

“Scotland is such an amazing place to start a business,” he said. “There is, what I feel to be, a start-up culture emerging, similar to Silicon Valley over in the States.

“The support network in Scotland is huge. The business community has always been supportive of smaller businesses and entrepreneurs, but I’ve found that in Scotland we take it to a whole new level.

“There are lots of different organisations that offer mentoring too. The likes of Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce offer mentor-matching services that can be hugely valuable.

“There’s no doubt, it’s an incredibly exciting time to start a business in Scotland. The opportunity is there. Anyone who is thinking about doing their own thing should do it.”

Bank of Scotland data found Wales has seen the largest decline in new start-ups, falling by more than a quarter (26 per cent ) between a rolling 12 months from November 2011 compared to November 2016.

England has also been hit hard, declining by a fifth. Since that is where the greatest volume of new-start businesses are launched, this equates to nearly 100,000 fewer new businesses created in 2016 compared to 2011, the study found.

Figures for Scotland show almost half (14 of 32) of the country’s regions have seen growth in the number of start-up businesses over the last five years.

A regional breakdown shows Orkney is the biggest success story, leaping by more than a third from 83 in 2011 to 118 in 2016.

The Highlands saw a 15 per cent increase from 1,180 new start-ups in 2011, rising to 1,354 last year, while Aberdeenshire and Midlothian witnessed improvements of 10%.

Glasgow came in at 15th, declining by 1.4 per cent, while Edinburgh was 21st on the list, decreasing by almost 7 per cent.

All parts of Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Argyll and Bute saw reductions of 17 per cent or more.

Jo Harris, managing director of retail business banking at Bank of Scotland, said: “The recent downward trend we’ve seen in new business start-ups is likely to be a response to the uncertain economic environment; however there are significant opportunities if you have the determination and drive and we will be there to support you every step of the way.

“We are committed to supporting small businesses and are proud that Lloyds Banking Group helped more than 100,000 new start-ups in 2016.”