London has overtaken New York and San Fransisco as the best city in the world for female entrepreneurs after startups grew at a “colossal” rate during the pandemic, City A.M. can exclusively reveal.
The 2023 Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index, compiled with Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN), showed the capital ranked top against 55 other cities for its ability to attract and foster female entrepreneurs.
London beat New York, Bay Area and Paris – which came second, third and fourth respectively – to nab the title.
As well as having consistently ranked in the top three since the index began, London was the only city to have progressed both in the 2019-23 index and the previous 2017-19 index, with the capital having managed to improve during the pandemic.
Nurturing of talent proved to be London’s strongest suit, though business leaders raised concerns over London’s lack of progress when it came to technology, with the capital not even making the top 10 in this category.
Cities were judged according to both operating and enabling factors for female entrepreneurs, further split into five ‘pillars’.
London performed most strongly when it came to the talent element, measuring the likelihood of finding women with training and experience as well as availability of a local labour force with the skills and education necessary.
In other categories, London was ranked third in markets and capital and seventh in culture. It failed to make the top 10 for technology, where Copenhagen took the lead.
“London has consistently been ranked one of the top three cities in its ability to attract and support high potential women entrepreneurs. London, New York, and San Francisco have been the golden tier for women entrepreneurship since the index was created and this year London took the top spot on the podium,” the report said.
London, however, didn’t have a completely clean report card, with the report noting London “generally has been slipping” in technology and culture.
“Early signs are pointing to the enabling environment becoming a key differentiator for cities in the future as remote work and the information age matures into the digital age,” the report said.
Margarete McGrath, global advisory and strategy partner lead at Dell Technologies, exclusively told City A.M. the capital rose to the top “by leveraging its incredible talent”.
“We’re seeing the startup ecosystem growing at a colossal rate, no more so than in London, and with it, the demand for entrepreneurial talent.
“London is home to many of the world’s leading universities and business schools, which have been instrumental in helping to establish a skilled talent pool – something we know is vital for founders looking to start and scale their businesses.”
She added that “the research credits accelerators as a leading opportunity for female entrepreneurs in London” working with programmes like the Natwest Entrepreneur Accelerator and Plexal’s cyber accelerator, LORCA.
Heralding the power of technology, she added that it is “a crucial driver for cities wanting to cultivate the right environment for female entrepreneurs to thrive, especially in a post-pandemic world”.
“While London scored well in all other aspects, the index has shown there is room for improvement when it comes to technology.
“This is surprising given that London has a reputation for producing some of the world’s best-leading technology startups, but it presents an enormous opportunity.
“For London to maintain its world-leading position for female entrepreneurs, investment in technology – such as 5G rollout as one example – is essential to maintain competitive advantage.”
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan welcomed the title, saying: “It’s fantastic news that London has been ranked the best city in the world for women entrepreneurs and that our capital has seen major progress in the number of female founders starting and growing businesses.
“I am proud that London’s world-leading education institutions, business, environment and technology sectors are attracting a diverse range of entrepreneurial talent as we continue working together to build a better and fairer London for everyone.”
Elizabeth Heron, CEO and founder of London-based events firm Orangedoor, said the capital “is in the top ten under the culture pillar, due in part to the access female entrepreneurs have to mentors and role models.
“This research highlights women’s increasingly powerful role in driving economic growth in London and across the UK. I hope that, just as Dell Technologies has done, more businesses will commit to empowering female founders and aspiring entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. Their success will be absolutely crucial to the country’s economic recovery.
“I’m proud to see London positioned as the most progressive this year regarding female entrepreneurship. It perfectly illustrates that London is the place for empowering female founders and aspiring entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. Long may it continue!”