Business Opportunities In Birmingham UK
Date : Sep 03, 2020
Author : Isaac Addo
Birmingham has shed a historical image of a rather dreary and grey manufacturing city, into an influential business hub in Europe. In recent years, PwC voted the city one of the most “investable” in the UK, while local real estate was pinpointed as being some of the best in Europe in a survey by the Urban Land Institute’s Emerging Trends. It’s also a highly entrepreneurial city and one that continues to scale on every level.
In this article, we take a look at how Birmingham has grown from quite an average urban centre into an exciting hub with excellent transport and opportunities for new businesses.
Birmingham: From Humble Saxon Village to Vibrant Industrial Centre
Birmingham has always been an important industrial centre with a thriving manufacturing industry that can be seen in the jewellery quarter and the immense Cadbury plant. However, it wasn’t always the powerhouse economy that we see today.
It was once a humble Saxon village that grew into a town by the 12th Century. After establishing a weekly market, it began attracting buyers and sellers from the surrounding midlands. Sometime later, metalworking took prominence, but it wasn’t until the 18th Century when this industry started to take strides alongside the manufacturing industry in general. Today, tourism and finance are important sectors, but tech and professional services are the shining lights (More on these in a moment).
It’s true, Birmingham is a place of renewal and regeneration which is even visible in the restored Victorian buildings and state-of-the-art galleries at every turn. With an extensive network of metro lines on the way in 2025, there is also an outstanding transport system to support this vibrant centre for every industry.
Aside from the galleries, museums, and attractions, you will find an explosion of bars, restaurants and shopping centres which is testament to the fast-growing population of Birmingham. After huge growth in the early 20th Century, the city population has stabilized at approximately 1 million in recent years.
Local Statistics and the Growth of Business in Birmingham
Many advantages exist for new business opportunities in Birmingham, which is located in the very middle of the United Kingdom. After all, this strategic location makes the city easily accessible by road, air and rail, for both domestic and international markets. In fact, Birmingham is reachable from anywhere in the UK in less than a four hours drive.
With this in mind, the city welcomes over 13 million visitors via the airport each year which facilitates 50 airlines and flights to 140 routes. It’s also at the core of the HS2 network which takes goods and people to the city from London in less than 40 minutes.
While distance to London was once an obstacle, this is now a thing of the past which has made Birmingham an attractive alternative to locate or relocate for businesses.
And that’s just part of how Birmingham is setting itself apart…
Birmingham is home to one of the most diverse populations in the United Kingdom with more than 180 nationalities. For this reason, there is a large population that speak Chinese, French, Polish and other languages as their first language. Many companies have identified these language skills as a benefit, and this is just one of many skills on offer. More than 200,000 people in the city have a third level degree which is more than any regional city in the UK. But what does this look like in terms of the economy?
Birmingham has the fastest growing economy in the United Kingdom and the highest levels of employment for Medtech, fintech and transport tech. Similar numbers can be found in construction and manufacturing. In case you might be asking yourself, the headquarters for major players such as JCB, Jaguar, and AGA are also in Birmingham.
About Starting a Business and the Most Prominent Sectors
Business owners will always depend on logistics and local skills when it comes to a new venture. Recent studies show that Birmingham is one of the most sought after hubs for startups and entrepreneurs. It has a rich heritage in technology and science which dates back to the Industrial revolution, and the UK government intends to make the city as an Enterprise Zone in which they will provide tax breaks and improved transport systems.
More specifically, Birmingham is overflowing with financial and professional services businesses. With more than 4,000 companies and 50,000 people, this sector (BPFS) is the largest outside of London which is attributed to the fact that there are more business students in Birmingham than any other regional city. Just so you know, the Business, Professional, Financial Services sector contributes £24.5bn GVA per year which makes it the most significant in the city.
And that’s also why major companies in every other industry like Deutsche Bank, Metro Bank, PwC, EY and KPMG are in Birmingham. After all, these major companies have a plethora of clients to serve in both domestic and international markets. Global firms always try to attract young professionals, and the number of universities in Birmingham can often fulfil these needs. For example, HSBC recently disclosed their decision to invest £200 million into a new facility in Birmingham to the talent pool and easy access to supply chains.
However, tech is by far the burgeoning sector (£1.1billionGVA) in Birmingham with over 65,000 people employed and more than 12,000 businesses. It also makes sense that Birmingham is called the “Silicon Spa”, for many gaming and cybersecurity firms are based here. What’s more, software developers and engineers are familiar, while Birmingham is also considered the “testbed” for 5G networks in the United Kingdom.
As you might expect, this talent pool and location has also attracted many entrepreneurs and startups to the city, and this trend is likely to continue for some time.
The future is bright for Birmingham, and even the Department of International trade was quick to pinpoint the city as a world leader for business. With a reputation in both domestic and international trade, there is plenty of room for growth. At the same time, a £500 million expansion of Birmingham Airport is set to increase passenger numbers by 40% by 2033. What’s more, this expansion will create over 30,000 jobs for locals and generate up to £2 billion for the local economy. With the Commonwealth Games on the way in 2022, there is also a further £778 being invested into the city and the Queensland economy received a £1.4 billion boost from the most recent games that were held.
Anyway, the point is, business opportunities in Birmingham continues to grow, and stimulus packages are helping the city benefit in many areas. Indeed, what was once a rather grey or dreary city, is now one of the most dynamic and exciting hubs for new businesses in the UK.