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UK cements place as engineering start-up hub

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The UK has overtaken the US as the best place to start up an engineering business.

New research shows that British entrepreneurs are 20% more likely to start a firm than their American peers. 

A total of 63% of London-based engineers, and 34% UK-wide, have founded their own business compared to 27% in the US, according to new research by the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub.

However, California’s San Jose and San Francisco were considered the best places to found an engineering start-up due to a highly skilled workforce, cultural appreciation of engineering and easy access to investors. The American cities were followed by Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

The research also found that a generation gap has emerged between young graduate and academic entrepreneurs and those over the age of 40. Only one in ten of over 40s have started or considered starting a business, in contrast to a third of those aged 21 to 30, rising to half of 31 to 40 year olds. 

Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Committee chairman Ian Shott said: “Life may begin at 40 by it is clear that world leading businesses start far earlier. The UK has lagged behind the US in commercialising its world-class research, so I am encouraged to see that a new generation of engineering entrepreneurs is rising to the challenge.”

The survey of 400 UK and US based engineers ranked access to funding as the most important factor in allowing an enterprise to flourish, followed by access to customers and markets and mentoring. 

Shott added: “We often think of the US as a hotbed of enterprise, but the results clearly show that an entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking on this side of the pond too.

“We founded the Enterprise Hub to bring together exceptional engineering business leaders, both emerging and established, for mutual gain.

“Given time and support they have begun to develop tomorrow’s world-leading innovative enterprises, extending Britain’s reputation for invention and creativity.”

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