Canterbury city centre. Image courtesy of Shutterstock

13 April 2021

Roadmap to recovery: Canterbury ranked number one destination to start up a new business

Despite the pandemic testing the resilience of businesses, Canterbury has been ranked first in the UK as the number one destination to start up a new business, according to Startups Geek.

Canterbury Christ Church University provides support to businesses across Kent and Medway through management programmes and apprenticeships, as well as short courses on business planning. The University’s new multi-million pound facility The Verena Holmes Building, for science, technology, health, engineering and medicine has recently opened and will support the region’s future economic growth and skilled workforces.

Together with the Daphne Oram Creative Arts Building, and the creation of the Kent and Medway Engineering, Design, Growth and Enterprise (EDGE) Hub, this recent investment by the University will strengthen the retention of high-quality graduate skills across creative arts, critical science, technology and health sectors, while increasing diversity in Kent and Medway’s workforce, with a strong focus on more women and those from disadvantaged backgrounds in STEM. It will also be a catalyst for digital transformation in Kent and Medway, with a strong focus on Industry 4.0 and 5.0.

Businesses also engage with students through project briefs to support with current business plans and challenges. The University is key in helping grow local talent and provides opportunities for collaboration between local businesses and the Christ Church Business School at the University.

Sean Cleary, Enterprise and Engagement Manager at the University, said: “Existing businesses have shown courage, adaptability and stamina in an uncertain business landscape and this has demonstrated the strength and perseverance across industry to navigate through unchartered territory.

“It seems this has particularly resonated with those looking to start new businesses in Kent, with a record number of company formations in 2020.

“Over 18,000 new businesses started in Kent in 2020, making the county sixth in the UK for new company formations and representing a year-on-year upward trend of business formations in the county,” he said.

“Despite the challenges from the pandemic and impact of Brexit, new company formations are originating from a variety of industry sectors demonstrating the diverse ecosystem that exists within the region.

Startups Geek ranked Canterbury as the number one destination to start a business in the UK. Canterbury ranked first due to a combination of relatively low staff costs, low cost rental of office space, a start-up survival rate of 41% (Locate in Kent, 2021), as well as having three local universities - a great resource for local, student and graduate talent for new businesses looking to recruit. Another study, by Dojo, also found that Canterbury ranked as the 11th best city in the UK to start a remote business.

Infographic courtesy of Inform Direct 2021Infographic courtesy of Inform Direct 2021

Dr Marianne Highwood, Enterprise Director of the Business School at Christ Church, explained what support is available at the University for local start-ups and budding entrepreneurs looking to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to support them as business owners and managers:

“The Business School can provide support to Kent businesses through a variety of ways. Businesses can engage in developing their own managers and leaders through its management apprenticeships programmes (CMDA and SLA), as well as short courses on business planning. Businesses are also able to engage with students through live project briefs to support them with current business plans and challenges, as well as engage with students in work placements and internships. This helps ‘grow’ local talent and provides opportunities for collaboration between local businesses and the Business School at the University.”

Dr Highwood adds: “We would welcome opportunities to speak to local businesses and employers who wish to work collaboratively with the University and would encourage those who are forming businesses in the Kent and Medway area to get in touch with us to discuss how we can help you grow your business.”

Maxine Owen is the Project Manager for the University’s Kent and Medway Engineering, Design, Growth and Enterprise (EDGE) Hub and explains why she believes the regional is so popular to start a new business.

The Verena Holmes Building houses programmes in Science, Technology, Health, Engineering, and MedicineThe Verena Holmes Building houses programmes in Science, Technology, Health, Engineering, and Medicine

“The region has recently seen a significant injection of new facilities and expertise, such as the EDGE Hub at Canterbury Christ Church University making it a desirable destination for new businesses.

“The EDGE Hub has been developed to support regional growth, through a sustainable pipeline of new engineering and technology graduates and an innovative industry offering. Expertise and courses range across chemical, biomedical, mechanical, product design and software engineering, as well as computing and technology – all of which are underpinned by the latest digital advances and Industry 4.0 and 5.0.”

Maxine also explained how business can benefit from working collaboratively with the University. She said: “From research and development and consultancy, to accessing student talent through projects or placements, businesses can benefit from the injection of expertise and innovation in a range of different ways. The new £65 million state-of-the-art Verena Holmes Building in the heart of Canterbury, will provide a space where businesses, academics and students can come together to collaborate.

“The EDGE Hub facilities housed in this building have been built with businesses in mind, with trans-disciplinary maker spaces and workshops, additive manufacturing facilities, machining equipment and an Internet of Things lab.”

To find out more on how Canterbury Christ Church University can help support you and your organisation, develop and grow, go to or email



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Last edited: 15/01/2020 11:19:00