Ascentant Blog
Why start or relocate a business in Derby?

Home to Rolls Royce, Bombardier and Toyota, Derby is establishing itself as a hotbed of enterprise and innovation through business enterprise schemes, regional investment, its skilled Workforce and enviable location. With a population around 250,000, a fast growing University (climbing rankings year on year) working in partnership with local businesses and low cost of living, relocating or starting a business in the City has never looked more attractive.

Derby was named the “Start Up Capital” of the UK ahead of London in 2015, highlighting that 12% of the workforce is employed in Digital or Technology sectors, the low cost of living and skilled technical, engineering and entrepreneurial background to the City. Local growth initiatives headed by the City Council, D2N2 and Marketing Derby support new businesses to establish themselves in the city and existing businesses to innovate, expand and succeed.

Outsourcing, Northshoring and Offshoring – An opportunity for Derby? 

Business Rates across the UK, especially within London and the South East are about to rocket, in addition to a shortage of office space, high costs of travel, insurance, regulation and inflation pushing up costs. Many international businesses need a presence in London, but are beginning to realise that with stagnating profits and an ever increasing bottom line, they need to look at drastic solutions to keep their businesses profitable.

Businesses in London have begun outsourcing some business services overseas in a bid to cut costs, but often find barriers around compliance, regulation and language a costly hurdle to overcome. Data Protection, taxation and language have led some businesses that have outsourced overseas to bring services and jobs back to the UK – Having failed at solving their initial problem.

Enterprising Law Firms in London and the South East have begun to solve this problem by “North Shoring” rather than Outsourcing. This involves moving back office or support operations away from areas with high commercial rents, salaries and associated costs to low cost areas in the country. Freshfields and Latham & Watkins have opened low cost business hubs in Manchester, while Sheffield City Council is trying to entice London firms to the City through incentives.

Is this an opportunity for Derby to host firms considering “Northshoring”? As well as nurture and grow its own talent?

Enterprise & Investment

The Local Enterprise Partnership, D2N2 work with the City and County Council in addition to Marketing Derby and other organisations to source and provide funding and support to the local area and local businesses through programmes of development, training and funding. Grants are available to businesses to assist with technology, research and development in addition to training employees, developing Digital approaches to working.

D2N2 ‘s Strategic Economic Plan looks to drive economic and commercial growth in the area and Infinity Park in Derby is a key example of enterprise and investment in Derby. The £200m, 250 acre commercial and technology park aims to provide 1.5 million square feet of office space and upto 8,000 jobs focused around hi tech and knowledge industries.

The Midlands Engine initiative has also been developed to focus on investment and growth in the Midlands area. The Engine focuses on trade and investment, transport, research and innovation, business support and skills.

Business Costs

Whether looking for serviced office space or leased premises, Derby offers competitive and low cost office and Warehouse space. Serviced Offices at Citibase can start from £100 for a small startup office including all rates on a monthly rolling contract. Leased office Space can start from as little as £4/£5 per Square foot exclusive of service or maintenance charges.

Pride Park Business Hub also houses serviced and shared business centres such as the Oberoi Business Hub in addition to permanent leased premises.

Utility costs and Business rates are relatively low in the city, with serviced offices and small business rates relief available to start ups and small businesses.

Business Groups and Networking 

There are many groups and initiatives in the City to network and collaborate on projects. The East Midlands Chamber of Commerce covers the Derby area in addition to the Local Enterprise Partnership, D2N2 which provides events, training and networking opportunities. Additionally, The Derby Hub, Marketing Derby and local business groups provide plenty of opportunities to network with other local businesses.

Skills & Training

Derby University works closely with local businesses to nurture talent and provides employment programs in association with local employers. The University of Derby is steadily rising up the University Rankings, climbing from 73rd to 48th in the Guardian University Guide 2017, putting it in the top 50 in the country. In addition to the University and graduate talent, Derby is home to 3AAA among other Apprenticeship providers, ensuring that local skills are developed at grassroots and working with local employers to meet their needs. Additionally, local growth initiatives fund programs for employers to “Upskill” and train staff in developing or new technologies to further the “Digital Derby” strategy.

Cost and quality of Living 

Derby is ranked the 23rd best place to live in the UK ahead of London, Manchester and Birmingham. This is attributable to its employment rate of 73%, relatively low house prices and low cost of living. The obvious low living costs include mortgage or rent payments, eating out, food shopping and travel.

The Peak District is nestled a short distance of the city, with no shortage of countryside or outdoor leisure activities – Whether sailing or Kayaking at Carsington Water, camping in the hills, trekking, horse riding or visiting Stately Homes and Castles – Leisure is never far from the city.


Being the most central geographic City in England puts it at the heart of the country for Logistics, with the M1 in touching distance and national distribution centres in nearby Burton such as B&Q, Argos and Waterstones making the most of the location.

Derby is within 60 minutes of both East Midlands Airport and Birmingham Airport, connecting it with both national and international routes for commerce, logistics and domestic travel. Derby is also 90 minutes from London by rail and the planned HS2 Rail link is due to connect Derby to the network by 2026, reducing journey times to London to 52 minutes and Birmingham to 20 minutes – Almost half of current journey times.

There are plenty of resources discussed here, that are able to advise businesses on strategy, implementation and growth. Derby is also home to many Business Consultancies such as Ascentant, providing advice and support to startups and established businesses. If you are looking to start a business in Derby or looking for advice on any aspect of your business, contact Ascentant, who will be able to direct you towards an appropriate resource or assist your business with its needs.