BOURNEMOUTH has eclipsed major cities including London to become the second fastest growing area for start-ups in the UK.

The town saw a 20 per cent year-on-year increase in new businesses in the first quarter of 2018.

It was beaten only by Warrington in Cheshire, which saw start-ups grow by 54 per cent, according to research by the company information platform DueDil.

If the current rate of growth continues, Bournemouth will produce 6,829 new companies by the end of the year.

Southampton saw its number of start-ups fall by nine per cent, suggesting Bournemouth may have become the location of choice for entrepreneurs on the south coast.

The local picture contrasted with the UK-wide data, which showed start-up numbers declining by 2.5 per cent to 92,408 so far this year.

While London still produced the highest number of start-ups, it slipped out of the top 10 for percentage growth.

Justin Fitzpatrick, chief executive of DueDil, said: “Driven by challenges in securing financing and the uncertainty of Brexit, last year we saw the first decline in incorporated companies since the global financial crisis of 2008.

“Yet, despite the rhetoric, the figures from our latest study are encouraging and it is great to see the spirit of British entrepreneurship continuing to thrive.

“Where there is a will, there is always a way. Some of today’s most successful UK businesses were founded in 1976 in the wake of one of the most severe global recessions on record.

“Businesses can succeed against the odds if they understand the challenges and have the right information to make informed decisions.”

Alex Chisnall, business advisor with Virgin Startup, based at THIS Workspace in the Daily Echo building, said: “This is great news and mirrored in what we have been seeing since we started offering support, funding and mentoring to start-ups in July 2016.

“Since then, our regular monthly entrepreneurial meetups have gone from 40 attendees to consistently selling out 100-plus.”

He said the area could point to a host of successful entrepreneurs, from Lush co-founder Mark Constantine and Amigo Loans’ James Benamor to recent successes such as Jim Cregan of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, Kris Gumbrell of Brewhouse and Kitchen, Rupert Holloway of Conker Gin and Andy Lennox of Koh Thai.

“The list is endless and inspiring,” he said.

“What has undoubtedly helped has been organisations such as THIS Workspace offering Bournemouth’s start-ups a place they can call home, which has never been the case before.

“Being able to move form the kitchen table to an office with a supporting community has got to help any aspiring entrepreneur. A focal point for start-ups to work, connect and be inspired is key in my opinion.”

Salford in Greater Manchester saw a 47 per cent decline in start-ups, while major cities such as Peterborough, Sunderland, Glasgow, Leicester and Cambridge had double-digit slumps.

n Virgin Startup in Bournemouth is hosting Inspiring Entrepreneurial Women this Wednesday, with tickets almost sold out.