NI is UK’s fastest-growing region for business start-ups

business start-ups
Man putting on store opening soon sign Northern Ireland had the biggest percentage increase in newly-registered businesses in the UK in 2023, with the charge being led by retail (Rawpixel/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Northern Ireland was the fastest-growing region in the UK for newly-registered companies in 2023, a new index shows.

Some 14,000 new firms were set up last year, which was a 59.3% increase on the previous year.

For context, the growth was more than double that in London (up 20.4%) and was five times greater than in Scotland (11.6%).

The figures, contained in Ulster Bank and Beauhurst’s Start-up Index, also showed that Belfast was the fastest-growing council area in the UK by number of newly registered companies.

The city showed a 123% increase in the number of new businesses in 2023, while Causeway Coast & Glens, and Lisburn & Castlereagh also made the UK top 10, with the numbers of new businesses growing by 61% and 54% respectively.

The retail sector was responsible for the largest rise in the number of new firms in Northern Ireland, with 3,605 new companies set up.

Mark Crimmins, head of Ulster Bank, said: “These new ventures are predominantly small businesses, owned and run by local people, which will play an important role in supporting the growth of the region’s economy.

Ulster Bank's Mark Crimmins (DARREN KIDD)

“At Ulster Bank we believe we have a key role to play in supporting businesses, not only to start-up, but to scale and succeed.

“Our Accelerator programme stands as a beacon of this commitment, having supported more than 800 start-ups since its launch.

“These businesses have an average annual turnover of £182,000 and an average team size of more than three people, while 46% of them are female-founded.”

A record 900,000 new companies were incorporated in the UK in 2023, according to the index figures.