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The process of signing new business contract

Nearly 100 new UK businesses created every hour in first quarter of 2021

Record number of new businesses incorporated in an opening quarter

More than 2,300 companies were created every day between start of the year and end of March

Second highest ever number of new companies in a three month period

Number of new start-ups has only surpassed 200k in a quarter twice before, in Q3 and Q4 of 2020

New research has revealed that more British businesses have been set up at the start of this year than any first quarter in history.

The study by cloud accounting company Ember found that from January to March this year, 211,368 companies were incorporated at Companies House.

That equates to 2,349 brand new businesses each day, or 98 every single hour.

It marks the first time that the opening quarter of a year has seen more than 200,000 companies created in the UK.

The previous high mark for the first quarter of a year was in 2019, when the first three months saw the creation of 182,742 new businesses.

Only one quarter has ever seen a higher number of incorporations – July, August and September, the third quarter of 2020, when 221,020 start-ups were created.

As a result the number of businesses started at the beginning of this year is the second highest total since the creation of Companies House in 1884.

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The latest figures appear to indicate an increase of entrepreneurialism in the UK which has coincided with the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on society. More than 200,000 new businesses have been created in each of the past three quarters.

Commenting on the study, Ember co-founder Daniel Hogan said: “It’s great to see so much new business activity in the UK. The pandemic has changed the way a lot of people think about their lives and their work, and it looks like more people than ever are taking the opportunity to go into business.”

The top ten quarters by number of new businesses incorporated, by Ember

Rank Year Quarter Number of new businesses incorporated
1 2020 Q3 221,020
2 2021 Q1 211,368
3 2020 Q4 201,820
4 2019 Q1 182,742
5 2020 Q2 176,115
6 2016 Q2 172,935
7 2016 Q1 172,096
8 2017 Q1 170,143
9 2019 Q2 169,976
10 2020 Q1 169,822


In the 12 months from April 2020 to March 2021, a total of 810,323 businesses have been incorporated. That figure is higher than any other rolling 12 month period. It is also close to the number of companies that were started in 2011 and 2012 combined (920,183).

The calendar year of 2020 saw the number of new businesses totalling 768,777, an average of 192,194 per quarter, or 2,106 each day.

As a result, with new companies being incorporated at a rate of 2,349 per day in the first quarter of 2021, the UK is currently on course for its biggest ever number of new businesses in a calendar year – more than 800,000 in total.

Conversely, the number of companies dissolved also reached its highest rate in the first quarter of 2021, with 171,169 businesses being dissolved in January, February and March this year – the largest number in the past decade.

The research was conducted by Ember, the cloud accounting company which automates accounting and tax to help make business admin simpler and more cost effective for freelancers, contractors, start-ups and small businesses.



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