Start-ups were down 10 per cent last year in 20 of the world’s richest nations, according to the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM).
It found that the decline was the most severe in the US, where it plunged 24 per cent.
The UK fared a little better only seeing a six per cent drop.
Meanwhile the United Arab Emirates saw the most start-up activity in 2009 with a rise of 38 per cent.
The GEM report was based on a study of 54 countries. The study was established by London Business School and Babson College in the US.
Professor Bill Bygrave of Babson College, one of the founders of GEM, said: “Throughout the world, would-be entrepreneurs reported greater difficulty in obtaining financial backing for their start-up activities, especially from informal investors, families, friends, and strangers.”
A quarter of new entrepreneurs feel the prospects for their businesses are now more positive in 2010 than a year earlier, according to the study.