Forget London: These are the UK's hottest business hubs


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Business travel by small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) has increased by as much as 230 per cent on rail routes to key UK cities outside of London, reveals data by Trainline for Business.

The data, covering the last four years and showing growth in SME rail business travel, points to the emergence of new business hubs across the UK including in Brighton (230 per cent growth), Swindon (183 per cent growth), Peterborough (166 per cent growth) and Northampton (130 per cent growth).

The UK’s most active cities for SME business travel outside of London:

1. Brighton – 230 per cent rail business travel growth

Often referred to as ‘Silicon Beach’ for its ability to attract creative and digital talent, Brighton has emerged as a business hub boasting more ‘creative SMEs’ and start-ups per capita than anywhere else in the UK.

2. Swindon – 183 per cent rail business travel growth

The city has strengthened its position as a business hub following the opening of Intel’s Internet of Things innovation centre in 2014. Other major businesses in the city include RWE npower, Arval, Zurich Financial Services and Nationwide Building Society.

3. Oxford – 182 per cent rail business travel growth

A world-renowned seat of education, Oxford is home to the Said Entrepreneurship Centre, the Oxford Foundry entrepreneurial hub and the Oxford Seed Fund. Goldman Sachs runs its 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme in partnership with Said, supporting small businesses and social enterprises with high growth potential.

 4. Peterborough – 166 per cent rail business travel growth

The city has benefitted from a major regeneration programme and has developed into a commercial hub, underpinned by opportunities for small businesses including the 240-acre Gateway business park and the Eco Innovation Centre.

5. Northampton – 130 per cent rail business travel growth

With one of the highest start-up rates in the UK, the city has become a hive of commercial activity following development of the Northamptonshire Growth Hub in 2014. The innovation hub took more than 2000 requests for support in its first two years.

Leamington Spa – 121 per cent rail business travel growth

Leamington has earned a reputation as ‘Silicon Spa’, boasting one of the biggest clusters of video gaming companies in the UK. The town is also home to global organisations such as National Grid, Millward Brown and Wolseley.

Bristol –  110 per cent rail business travel growth

Recognised as one of the country’s top innovation hubs and home to fast growing companies such as Just Eat, Somo, Huawei and Kainos and SETSquared, Bristol was named the best university incubator in the world last year.