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The UK's the fifth most entrepreneurial country in the world

Lynsey Barber
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The UK is one of the best countries in the world for fostering entrepreneurs (Source: Getty)

The UK is better at fostering entrepreneurial talent than nearly every other country in the world, new research reveals, propelled ahead of the US thanks to its finance expertise and favourable policies.

The UK ranks fifth behind only Singapore, New Zealand, Denmark and Canada when it comes to creating an environment where entrepreneurs can flourish, according to the Ashish J Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship Index from the Mara Foundation and Opinium.

The ranking takes into account policy, infrastructure, education, the entrepreneurial environment and finance of 85 countries around the world.

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GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP INDEX

1. Singapore

2. New Zealand

3. Denmark

4. Canada

5. UK

6. Norway

7. Ireland

8. Finland

9. Switzerland

10. Sweden

The availability of finance and the UK's attractiveness to both venture capital and private equity investors from around the world, as well as a generally stable economy, gave it a leg up, as did a business friendly approach from government.

In terms of venture capital access, the UK ranked second only to the US, which ranked 13th overall.

However, the UK is being held back by a lack of entrepreneurial environment among the general population, ranking "significantly low" in the attitudes of general citizens to starting their own business.

“The Index indicates that on the global stage, the United Kingdom is one of the most open and nurturing environments for entrepreneurs to build their own business," said Opinium managing director James Endersby.

HOW DID THE UK RANK?

5th Finance (credit availability, VC attractiveness, tax rate)

6th Policy (economic freedom, risk, business transparency, labour market flexibility)

13th Infrastructure (internet and electricity access, urbanisation, smartphone penetration, capacity to retain talent)

13th Entrepreneurship (openess to tech, attitude toward, opportunities in and status of entrepreneurship)

16th Education (quality, literacy rate, gender balance)

"While fifth place is a significant and admirable position in the overall ranking, the lack of entrepreneurial spirit that it indicates in the average citizen is concerning. More must be done to encourage people to take hold of the opportunities available to them, particularly if we want to continue to nurture our economic position in a post-Brexit environment.”

The result comes after the chancellor Philip Hammond last week promised several measures to support the UK's most entrepreneurial startups in his Autumn Statement, including £400m of venture capital funding, a £2bn boost for R&D and championing fintech across the country and abroad.

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London was named the best city in Europe for entrepreneurs in a separate study by Nesta and the European Digital Forum, while another five UK cities appeared in the top 20. It warned, however, that the government must continue to make efforts to attract the Deliveroos and Funding Circles of the future to maintain a lead over rival European cities as well as China and the US.

The UK's startup scene was last week given a further stamp of approval after Scottish tech star Skyscanner sold for £1.4bn.

Richard Branson, one of the UK's most renowned entrepreneurs, said of the ranking: “The Mara Foundation has done some great work supporting entrepreneurs all over the world. I’m delighted to see their new entrepreneurship index that will help identify opportunities for business, not-for-profits and government to work together to create the right environment for entrepreneurs to thrive and to create jobs.”

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