New study names Belfast one of the most innovative UK cities in 2021 – Love Belfast

brand new study by Paymentsense has revealed the 50 most innovative towns and cities across the UK – and Belfast ranks in twentieth place!
Uk card payments provider Paymentsense has created a nationwide ‘innovation index’ analysing over 60 UK towns and cities. The study scored each location on the following factors that influence innovation:
📈   Business startups –  Number of patent applications and new business registrations
💼  Qualified workforce – Percentage of the working age population with NVQ4 and above education
🧠   Profession knowledge – Percentage of private knowledge intensive business services jobs
🖥   Entrepreneurialism  – Google search volumes and trends for ‘how to start a business’

Belfast ranks twentieth place on the index with an innovation score of 63.3 out of 100. The capital of Northern Ireland scored well in all the business innovation areas studied – beating cities such as Birmingham, Cardiff and York.
With 42 new business start-ups per 10,000 people, the professional landscape in Belfast has continued to grow in recent years. The area’s good connectivity, advanced technology and affordable living costs have attracted many new businesses to the area, creating many jobs and opportunities for residents. There is also a number of business support for helping start ups set up in the city offering attractive funding and investment opportunities.
Belfast also attracts business due to its talented and productive workforce. 40% of workers are qualified with an NVQ4 or above in Belfast. This has helped draw major businesses to set up headquarters in the area – such as Deloitte and Kainos. The city’s academic offering is also very strong. Skilled graduates are produced from Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University, which have a student population of 45,000. There also are a number of colleges offering higher education courses.
Entrepreneurial spirit is also high in Belfast with 1,030 monthly searches for ‘how to start a business’ by residents each month. This is also reflected by the number of kickstarters, with over 406 ideas registered with an average of £5,447 pledged for each.
Ranked: The 30 most innovative cities in the UK 🏙
Rank
City
Business Start ups
(per 10,000 population)
Qualified workforce (NVQ4 and above)
(%)
Private knowledge intensive business services jobs (%)
Google Search volumes for ‘how to start a business’ (monthly)
Av. 12 month search trend for ‘how to start a business’
Kickstarters (No. Ideas)
Kickstarter Pledges
(Ave. amount per idea)
INNOVATION INDEX SCORE
(out of 100)
1
London
107
53.3
23.7
11960
-32.00%
16835
£9,141.08
86.4
2
Bristol
56
46.7
18.7
1770
-18.00%
1121
£7,947.60
82.5
3
Edinburgh
55
57.5
21.5
1460
-28.00%
1845
£4,462.50
78.5
4
Manchester
65
38.0
15.7
1970
-25.00%
1373
£11,498.19
78.5
5
Leeds
53
40.1
19
1710
-6.00%
787
£3,688.12
77.8
6
Glasgow
48
47.4
14.2
1730
-4.00%
996
£4,673.41
77.6
7
Brighton
88
55.3
15.1
890
8.00%
216
£3,114.88
74.1
8
Reading
66
51.0
25.3
1080
-27.00%
154
£4,786.72
73.5
9
Cambridge
55
69.6
15.3
790
-22.00%
456
£12,127.26
72.1
10
Northampton
89
33.7
14.8
1050
60.00%
238
£3,227.45
72.1
11
Southampton
79
39.4
13
760
-19.00%
319
£12,516.30
68.7
12
Milton Keynes
74
43.9
17.9
910
-30.00%
154
£4,716.12
68.7
13
Aberdeen
50
54.9
16.6
896
-15.47%
178
£2,434.55
64.4
14
Liverpool
59
36.3
12.7
1550
-20.00%
713
£3,402.58
67.1
15
Nottingham
40
36.3
12.6
1180
-10.00%
832
£16,454.30
67.1
16
Bournemouth
53
39.4
17.7
1000
-21.00%
312
£4,356.21
67.3
17
Leicester
59
35.5
12.9
1510
-12.00%
261
£3,062.02
66.4
18
Slough
80
40.3
15.9
1090
-31.00%
12
£27,374.48
66.2
19
Sheffield
41
41.3
11.2
1420
-18.00%
629
£4,834.46
63.7
20
Belfast
42
40.2
12.4
1030
-16.00%
406
£5,447.09
63.3
21
Norwich
43.3
32.2
14
800
15.00%
302
£5,459.21
61.7
22
Oxford
42.3
57.9
9.7
900
-27.00%
472
£7,993.58
60.5
23
Birmingham
56.8
30.2
11.5
3030
-35.00%
991
£4,270.00
59.6
24
Warrington
55.9
41
20.5
880
-42.00%
70
£3,693.05
57.1
25
Coventry
43.6
36.4
11.5
1290
-21.00%
254
£3,225.56
55.6
26
Swindon
50
34.4
18
830
-40.00%
117
£7,958.49
55.6
27
Exeter
50.2
38.9
10.5
730
16.00%
225
£2,306.60
55.3
28
Derby
44.9
33.3
13.6
1080
-33.00%
161
£6,702.94
54.9
29
York
45.1
49.1
13.4
760
21.00%
62
£1,690.22
53.7
30
Cardiff
47.3
46.4
15.1
720
-33.00%
514
£3,044.24
52.6
London is the UK’s most innovative city – and makes the world’s top 20
London ranks as the most innovative city in the UK, scoring 86.4 out of 100 on the Innovative index. With 107 startups registered per 10,000 people, compared to 89 business closures in the same year, the professional landscape of London is only growing.
London also has the highest number of kickstarter ideas out of the whole of the UK with 16,835. The average pledge currently invested in London-based Kickstarters is £9,127.90, showing the vast amount of new business growth across the capital.
For London, innovation isn’t a new trait, it lies deep in the city’s history too. London has been home to many inventions, from the world’s first underground railway to the humble vacuum cleaner. So it is no shock the UK capital is top of this list.
Bristol comes second in the list of most innovative cities in the UK
Bristol ranks second place on the UK innovation index, scoring 82.5 out of 100. Home to one of the best universities in the country, inventor of motorcycle side-cars, and pioneer of beating heart surgery, Bristol has many strings to its innovating bow. Close behind London with nearly £11,000,000 in total invested in Kickstarters, Bristol’s innovations just keep coming.
Scotland’s second largest city Edinburgh is the third most innovative in the UK
Edinburgh rounds up the top 3, scoring a respectable 78.5 out of 100 innovation total. The city saw 55 business start ups per 10,000 people in 2019. The historical city is constantly growing, and with 1,845 Kickstarters open at the moment, there is plenty of opportunity for innovation in every field. The city is the host of the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, and this is just one instance of world-leading innovation coming out of the city.
To see the full index of the UK and the world’s most innovative cities, please visit here.


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