Northern Ireland has been named as the fastest-growing region in the UK for newly registered companies in 2023 according to a new index from Ulster Bank and Beauhurst.
The boom in the number of start-ups was noted in the New Startup Index which found that Northern Ireland gained 14,000 new companies in 2023, a 59% increase on 2022.
Belfast was hailed as the fastest-growing council area in the UK by number of newly registered companies, with a 123% increase in the number of new businesses. Causeway Coast and Glens, and Lisburn and Castlereagh also made the top 10 by growth in the number of companies incorporated, with the number of new businesses growing by 61% and 54% respectively since 2022.
The retail sector was responsible for the largest rise in the number of new businesses in Northern Ireland with 3,605 new companies set up.
Mark Crimmins, Head of Ulster Bank, said: “These new ventures are predominantly small businesses, owned and run by local people, which will play an important role in supporting the growth of Northern Ireland’s economy.
“At Ulster Bank we believe we have a key role to play in supporting businesses not only to start-up, but to scale and succeed. Our Accelerator programme stands as a beacon of this commitment. Ulster Bank’s Accelerator has supported more than 800 startups since its launch. These businesses have an average annual turnover of £182,000 and an average team size of more than three people. 46% of them are female-founded. Businesses can apply for our first cohort of 2024 until 16 February,” he adds.
The rise in new businesses in Northern Ireland is a trend that is replicated across the UK. 900,000 new companies were incorporated in the UK in 2023, making it a record year for new businesses.
At a UK-level, the growth in female-founded businesses also continues to increase year on year, with a record 164,000 companies incorporated by women in 2023, up 4% on 2022 and taking growth in the five years between 2019 and 2023 to 26% overall.