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The Top 10 UK Cities For MBA Entrepreneurs

UK MBA programs are among the world’s most prestigious. But where are you best placed to start your own business? Clue: It’s not London

Wed Sep 12 2018

Entrepreneurship is a hot topic across business school campuses. Over 20% of business school applicants embark on MBA programs with a view to starting a business of their own.

And, with buzzing startup scenes and top-ranked business schools, the UK is a fertile ground for budding MBA entrepreneurs.

What are the best cities in the UK for entrepreneurship? A report from Instant Offices has ranked them, comparing the average population in each city with the number of startups launched there each year.

Here, we highlight Instant Offices’ top 10 cities for entrepreneurship in the UK, and the MBA programs in those cities that you need to know about:

10. Nottingham

According to Instant’s research, 6,787 new businesses launched in Nottingham last year, despite being only the ninth most populated city in the UK. Nottingham Trent University’s Business School was ranked in the top 95 business schools in Europe in 2017 by the Financial Times and offers a range of flexible MBA options, including the opportunity to specialize in Digital Marketing, Finance, or Global Supply Chain Management.

9. Glasgow

Though Glasgow ranks the same on the Entrepreneurial Index as Nottingham, an impressive 9,138 startups launched in Glasgow in 2017, making it one of the highest on the ranking. The MBA at University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School holds triple-accreditation—one of only 88 in the world to have such honours. If you’re looking for an up-and-coming entrepreneurial UK city to do your MBA, this could be the place for you.


8. Edinburgh

Itching to get out of London, but want to remain in a capital city? Over 7,000 startups launched in Edinburgh last year, and the city has risen in the rankings from last year. The MBA at Heriot-Watt University allows you to study jointly in Edinburgh and Dubai, allowing you the opportunity to make global connections while retaining ties to a growing capital city.

7. Bristol

This city has jumped through the ranks from 2017, and an impressive 7,290 businesses were launched here last year – more than in Edinburgh. The Bristol Business School has recently opened a new world-class building to provide the best environment for fostering business connections during your MBA. It was also shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Business School of the Year in 2017—so now might be the ideal time for you to take advantage of this growth and head to Bristol for your MBA.

6. Brighton

Brighton topped last year’s list of most entrepreneurial cities in the UK and is currently a burgeoning hub for tech startups. Tech firms in the coastal city have generated an average turnover of more than $650,000 per year since 2014, and on the MBA at the University of Brighton, you can take advantage of an award-winning mentoring scheme that could put you in touch with the brains behind these ventures.  

5. Manchester

Unsurprisingly, Manchester ranks highly on the list of most startups in the city in 2018, with 15,128 launches recorded in January 2018. The MBA at The University of Manchester Alliance Business School is in the top 50 globally for entrepreneurship, and students take on three consultancy projects while on the course, so you can gain hands-on experience that you can take with you once you’ve graduated.

4. Coventry

Though Coventry has the fewest total startups in the top five on this list (6,985), it ranks higher than larger cities, like Manchester and Edinburgh. The online MBA at Coventry University is unique, in that it is the only course of its kind to be delivered by online course provider FutureLearn. They were also the first university in the UK to offer a dedicated MBA in cyber security—so if you want to be at the forefront of pioneering tech, Coventry is the place for you.

3. Leicester

Another city that occupies a higher place on the list than last year is Leicester, where more startups were launched in 2017 than in Glasgow, Nottingham, and Brighton. The MBA at the University of Leicester was one of the first distance learning programs in the world to be accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA). They offer specializations in Finance, Human Resource Management, and Marketing, which can all be studied online. The Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) also has plans for the city to become an economic hub by 2050.

2. London

London remains the place with the most startups in the UK—a staggering 145,993 in 2017. In the heart of the city is Cass Business School—whose MBA is ranked fifth globally for entrepreneurship by the Financial Times, and prides itself on giving students an ‘explorer’s mindset’—gained from real-life exploring with the Expeditionary Society. If you’re ready to take the plunge in the big smoke, there’s plenty of opportunities to develop your entrepreneurial skills.


1. Birmingham

So, here it is, the best city in the UK for entrepreneurs. Instant Offices attributes Birmingham’s high ranking to accelerator schemes and infrastructure development in the city—for example, the new high-speed rail network in the city, HS2, aims to link Birmingham to London with a 49-minute travel time, and faster links to a host of other UK cities are also in the pipeline.

If you’re considering Birmingham as a launch location for your future startup, an MBA at Aston Business School could also help you. The school's full-time MBA is triple-accredited, and its personal and professional development program, Aston Edge, will give you the necessary networking skills to launch your startup after you graduate. If you’re looking for a more flexible program, Birmingham Business School also offer an MBA that’s 100% online—allowing you to continue working while you study.