Number of companies in East hits record level

Henry Catchpole of Inform Direct.

Henry Catchpole of Inform Direct. - Credit: Archant

Nearly 30,000 entrepreneurs launched new businesses in East Anglia last year, bringing the total number of companies in the region to a record high.

A study of companies set up in the UK in 2014, carried out by Ipswich-based Inform Direct, shows that there are now 196,027 firms registered in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, representing a 20% increase over the last five years.

Essex saw the region’s highest rate of business start-ups during 2014, with the total of 15,815 incorporations representing 9.1 for every 1,000 people living in the county.

Cambridgeshire was second, with the total of 5,879 representing 7.3 per 1,000 people, followed by Suffolk, with a total of 3,701 and a rate of 5.1, and Norfolk, with a total of 4,086 and a rate of 4.8%

All of the start-up rates in the region lag behind the UK average of 9.2 per 1,000 people, although the data is heavily skewed by London which on its own saw 191,915 new businesses incorporated last year.

Henry Catchpole, chief of Inform Direct, which provides online company secretarial services, said: “It is great to see such entrepreneurial spirit flourishing right across East Anglia.

“There is lots of support out there for fledgling businesses and it seems people are putting their ideas and dreams into action more than ever before.”

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Mr Catchpole, whose company compiled the figures using data from Companies House and the Office for National Statistics, suggested that three complementary factors lay behind the growth in start-ups.

“Firstly, there is the ease and speed with which a company can be started, usually within hours and generally for less than £20,” he said.

“Secondly, many companies can successfully operate from home and need little more than a website before they can start trading.

“Lastly, the improved channels for accessing capital such as crowdfunding which makes it easier for new companies to get early stage backing.”

Adding a note of caution, however, Mr Catchpole pointed out that company survival rates remain low, with only just over 50% of those formed in 2010 still remaining in business today.