For many entrepreneurs deciding on a location to start up their business is an incredibly difficult decision, but we’re here to help. In order to make the decision easier for you, we are starting a series of blog posts that will each focus on a different start up city.
In this blog post, we take a look at Sheffield which is known as a ‘tech startup’ hub.
Sheffield is rated the number one enterprise zone for technology and modern manufacturing in the UK by the Financial Times fDi magazine. Located in Yorkshire, the city has successfully been able to establish itself as an enterprising city thanks to its great transport links, office space availability, well facilitated accelerators, science parks and technology centres and its business partnerships with two of the UK’s major universities.
Sheffield is situated close to the M1 and is in close proximity to Robin Hood airport which makes travel to the city highly convenient. The city is also known for its manufacturing, tech and IT industries which has made it a desirable location for start ups in these fields.
Sheffield is also now home to a number of technology parks, accelerators and startup offices, as well numerous labs and shared workspaces. In fact, Sheffield is home to the most well known accelerator programme in the UK, Dotforge.
One of the more popular technology parks is Sheffield Technology Parks. They provide independent, affordable offices and meeting rooms in Sheffield’s city centre. Electric Works also offer state of the art office space for start up businesses in Sheffield and is another popular choice with entrepreneurs.
Sheffield is also lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a government investment. The city, along with Manchester and Leeds will receive £11 million in funding for new tech entrepreneur hubs.
As mentioned, sheffield is also home to two major universities, Sheffield Hallam and the University of Sheffield which offers startups a great talent pool to work with and opportunities of collaborative working.
Sheffield is also home to numerous grants and financial support making it a desirable location for entrepreneurs.
One such funding opportunity is called the Regional Growth Fund which allows eligible businesses to apply for grants of between £25,000 and £2,000,000.
Another popular grant is the SME Loan Fund which helps businesses based in Sheffield that have not been eligible for any of the more traditional types of finance that are widely available.
The city is also an attractive location for young entrepreneurs as the city offers Start Up Loans for Young People. Those entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 30 can qualify for loans of around £2,500 to help grow and establish start up businesses.
Another funding option that is specifically available for those startups located in Sheffield is the Threshold Companies Initiative. This funding option is considered the creme de la creme of funding, as 25 companies will not only receive investments, but they will also receive intensive support and access to networking opportunities and events.
Other startup perks include; cheaper recruitment costs, business support (especially for the biotech and tech industries) and a large range of financial support.
But, what do real businesses think about Sheffield as a start up location. We speak to a number of entrepreneurs that have chosen to start up in the city.
Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength and currently employs 5 people and are on the lookout for one more. The founder of the company has explained that there was a number of reasons why they decided to launch in sheffield over an alternative location. Firstly, they wanted to prove that as long as you have the right team and attitude you can start a business anywhere. Secondly, the fact that their investment was able to stretch much further was a major draw.
“The biggest advantage is the cost, we are able to stretch our investment further whilst still employing very talented people. If we were in London for instance, it would cost 3 times more for us.”
Airstoc have further explained that over the last two years Sheffield has built a great startup community and culture and offers a great range of support for budding entrepreneurs.
was set up in 2011, but didn’t really kick off until 2012. The company originally set up to help businesses understand their audience by building technology which helps them analyse thousands of unique data point. In turn, this provides businesses with deep insightful profiles for members of their audience.
The business originally recommended events based on an individual’s personality, but they then changed direction and instead of being consumer facing, they built a tool that could be used by developers or businesses.
The reason they chose Sheffield as their base was because of the availability of high quality university graduates and high retention rates.
Otus Labs also explained; “We are incredibly glad that we chose Sheffield, over the last few years we have seen a growing number of support groups in the city that help start up organisations.”
Another tech startup that chose to set up in Sheffield is Receptive. Receptive is the world’s only dashboard that has been built especially for SaaS product teams so they can collect, measure and understand customer feature requests. The company have been in operation for around a year and currently have four employees. But, the company are on a bit of a recruitment drive so will have a bigger team in 2016.
“Sheffield has a great tech scene and we’re only 2 hours from London. There’s a fantastic community here and we can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Receptive has also offered advice to other entrepreneurs. “Look beyond London! There’s so much going on in the North with great networks and support. You simply don’t need to be in London to grow and run a successful technology business.”
Delver helps businesses that are struggling to get answers from their data. The platform allows businesses to ask questions about their data and receive answers in plain English. Flowify is passionate about improving service within the hospitality industry and the company have created a tablet application called Sofia which helps ensure a high standard of service is consistently delivered.
So, what are you waiting for? Kick start your business in Sheffield.
A quick summary of Sheffield as your potential start up hub.