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Bristol – the best place to work and grow a business

Not only is it a great place to live, Bristol is an inspiring, dynamic centre for driving positive change.

For years I have been banging the gong for Bristol telling all my friends what a brilliant place this city is to live, work and relax. Having worked and lived in London for 25 years the peak hour traffic, intense as it can be, is a doddle. Not that I drive very often – I walk, or if it’s raining, catch a bus.

What brought me to Bristol in the first place? Well, I have fond memories from my late teens of a city that took me and welcomed me in as I explored its nooks, crannies and eccentricities. Of a university city with plenty of energy and a vibe that is both exciting and welcoming.

My first year in Bristol since my return, I donned my trainers and threw myself into being a tourist again. Walking up hills, (and there are a lot of hills) riding on ferries and taking the open bus tour. It’s a beautiful city with the signature photo opportunities of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and an array of Bristol entrepreneursarchitecture and engineering celebrating Brunel’s creative genius, the Harbourside and amazing Clifton downs. I love shopping in the quirky covered market before indulging in a shot of hot chocolate at Bristol’s Bar of chocolate or wandering down for lunch at The Harbourside. I enjoy walking the dogs on the rolling Durdham Downs and strolling through the boutique shops in Clifton. And I am proud of being part of the growing SME crowd here and running the thriving Bristol Entrepreneurs and Opportunity Seekers group with over 1,000 members.

Sunday Times Best Place to Live

But the thing I love best is the opportunity to live in a vibrant well serviced city, yet still be just a short ride from some of the most beautiful countryside the UK has to offer, and 40 minutes from the seaside beach at Weston Super Mare (25 minutes if you just want a place by the sea to walk your dog).

Now my enthusiasm has been validated by the accolade of Sunday Times “best place to live”. But like all special places I now have to retrain myself to share my secret with not just my friends but with the rest of the world. As The Sunday Times says “It’s the obvious choice in so many ways: a small city that feels like a big city. Handily placed for seaside and scenery, but hardly cut off from the rest of the country. There are jobs — lots of them glamorous, creative, hi-tech and professional — the food and drink are great, and it crams in all the culture you could wish for.”

Bristol topped best city to start a business

Not only is it a great place to live, Bristol is an inspiring, dynamic centre for driving positive change. It has become a hub for tech, video and CG companies. Perhaps following the lead of the BBC’s Natural History division based in Park Street. Out of the 43 nominations at last year’s Panda Awards (the Oscars for natural history television) held at Bristol’s Colston Hall, more than a third were for the work of production companies based in and around Bristol. Researchers at the University of West of England found “the advantages of setting up a production company in Bristol were due to the facilities and resources available, the proximity to London and lifestyle factors such as affordability of housing.”

The UCLs School of Management study revealed Bristol topped best city to start a business too. A well deserved recognition for the local council for all the effort that has gone into planning and implementing the business and support structure over the last decade.

So, what can you expect to find when you

build your business in Bristol?

A pool of well-educated talent tick

It has 2 established universities providing a pool of young educated talent. (as well as host a series of inspirational (often free) events, talks and conferences). A large proportion of Bristol’s labour force are well qualified too.  45.6 per cent of the working age population having NVQ Level 4 qualifications and above. According to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership “The area has unrivalled business strengths, a well-qualified workforce and world-class academic research.”

Supportive business infrastructure tick

The cost of office space is a joy to the entrepreneurs’ cash flow compared to the painfully high costs endured in London. Bristol Council is providing a £400m boost to its transport infrastructure – including cycling and pedestrian access to support the regeneration programme of Bristol Temple Quarter (behind Templemead Station) aimed at driving the economic growth.

Facilities for aspiring entrepreneurstick

It also has an abundance of, co-working office facilities, science parks which offer mentoring and research and collaboration opportunities. Access to the West of England Growth Fund, providing grants of between £10,000 to £80,000. The West of England LEP, which distributes grants from the government’s Regional Growth Fund, and Microcredit Fund.

Network to the Worldtick

Topping the table for broadband speeds, Bristol is well above the UK average of 26Mbps. Add this to the transport infrastructure – M4, M5, Bristol Templemeads Station. (direct train to many of UK’s popular destinations) As well as its own airport and Bristol Port providing access to international markets and there is the opportunity for any sole trader to fully operate and grow in a global marketplace.

But the whole is much more than the sum of the parts

The last word goes to the Sunday Times:

“No wonder its first choice for restless folk looking to take half a step off the treadmill and swap a dismal commute for a brightly coloured period house within walking distance of work, and weekends on a surfboard or mountain bike.”

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