• NatWest and Beauhurst’s New Startup Index reports a record 900,000 companies started in 2023, up 12% on 2022
  • Biggest growing sectors include online retailers, property, and street food stalls
  • Fastest growing region Northern Ireland (+59%), followed by London (+20%) and Scotland (+11%)


The New Startup Index from NatWest and Beauhurst, published today, has found that over 900,000 new companies were incorporated in the UK in 2023, making it a record year for new businesses.

The start-up boom brings the number of active companies operating in the UK to 5.31m, also a UK record high, pointing towards continued growth in the UK’s population of entrepreneurs, despite challenging economic conditions such as heightened inflation and increased operational costs. 

Last year the uplift in growth was driven by new online retailers, with over 82,000 new businesses starting in the sector. 49,000 businesses also began operating in the property letting space, and further down the top 10, 21,000 new takeaway and street food stands set up shop in 2023.

Meanwhile the sectors showing the slowest rate of growth for new incorporations are led by packaging, passenger rail, and logistics warehousing businesses.

Across the UK regions, Northern Ireland benefited from the largest boom in start ups year on year with 14,000 new businesses starting up in the province in 2023, a 59% increase on the previous year. London benefitted from a 20% increase, and Scotland came in third with 11%.

The growth in female founded businesses also continues to increase year on year, with a record 164,000 companies incorporated by women in 2023, up 4% on 2022 and taking growth in the five years between 2019 and 2023 to 26% overall.


James Holian, Head of Business Banking, NatWest Group, said:

“It is hard not to feel a sense of pride in the resilience and dynamism of the UK’s business landscape. Today’s report shows that despite the recent economic challenges, entrepreneurial spirit in the country has not just endured, it has thrived."

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, accounting for three-fifths of employment and about half of the private sector's turnover. As the UK’s biggest bank for business, we believe we have a key role to play in fostering an ecosystem where businesses are given the tools to start, scale and succeed."

The NatWest Accelerator stands as a beacon of this commitment. In the past 12 months alone, this free initiative has supported 1,300 scale-up leaders of which more than half were female-led businesses and 21% ethnic minority-led ventures. Businesses can apply for our first cohort of 2024 until 16 February at natwest.com/accelerator”


Henry Whorwood, Managing Director, Research and Consultancy, Beauhurst said:

“The growth in these numbers speaks to the growth in the UK's entrepreneurial ecosystem. While not all companies become startups or go on to become scaleups, the UK has a strong track record of helping new businesses start and succeed, and the strength in the pipeline should cheer investors and economists alike.”

Notes to editors:

This press release is for media use only and is not a financial promotion.

Beauhurst data is the primary data source for this report. Data on new company incorporations and the directors at these companies is derived from the official public records from Companies House. The dataset encompasses new company incorporations in the UK over a five-year period from 2019 to 2023.



Mike Johnston

Head of Media, Commercial Banking

NatWest Group


07584 403860


About NatWest Group

NatWest Group is a relationship bank for a digital world. We champion potential; breaking down barriers and building financial confidence so the 19 million people, families and businesses we serve in communities throughout the UK and Ireland can rebuild and thrive. If our customers succeed, so will we.  

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