Belfast Telegraph

Backing for fresh entrepreneurs sees business start-ups reach record high

By Claire McNeilly

Business start-ups in Northern Ireland have hit an all-time high.

New statistics show that 620 companies were established in March 2014 – the highest number to be set up in any one month to date.

The last financial year (April 2013 to March 2014) also saw the creation of 6,158 new start-ups, which is more than ever recorded before.

Across the whole of the UK, there were 533,032 new firms last year alone, representing the highest number on record. A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said there was widespread support for local entrepreneurs.

"The council's objective is to promote Belfast as a place to do business and help grow a sustainable, forward-looking economy supported by a dynamic workforce," she said. "To achieve this, we support and promote business start-ups in the city by running a number of business programmes targeted towards the sector.

"We also part-fund the City Business Hub – a business advice centre offering free information and support for anyone interested in starting, buying or growing a business in Belfast."

This so-called "entrepreneurial revolution" is being experienced across the UK as a whole, according to statistics from Companies House in London.

Meanwhile, Invest NI attracted 23 first-time investors to Northern Ireland last year, according to its annual results.

After a bumper April in which nearly 3,000 new jobs were announced by the agency, chief executive Alastair Hamilton said he believed there could be even more big job announcements following last October's investment conference in Belfast which was held in the wake of the G8 summit.

Invest NI also divulged the number of jobs created as a result of its support – 18,000 over the last three years.

The body promoted almost 11,000 new jobs in 2013 against a target of 7,780. Jobs promoted are those which a company receiving Invest NI help states it will create.

The agency said 6,040 of those jobs were in locally-owned companies and 4,760 through externally-owned firms.

Mr Hamilton said the cost of each job supported was around £6,800.

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