A new survey reveals the impact of the pandemic on future growth plans for Yorkshire businesses, but shows that more than two thirds of start-ups in the region remain confident about the next 12 months.

Commissioned by Nexus, the innovation hub at the University of Leeds’, the survey results have been compiled into a new report – the Nexus Business Barometer – which is published today (Thursday 19 November) together with comprehensive guidance for the start-up community on the support, funding, networks and partnerships they can access to innovate and grow their businesses.

“We wanted to understand more about the challenges facing start-up businesses across our region, to ensure that we continue to use our knowledge and expertise to meet their needs and that the wider innovation ecosystem adapts to support them,” said Nexus Director, Dr Martin Stow.

“Our region has an abundance of ambitious start-ups with the potential to boost the economy and shape the future. Our survey showed that, despite the impact of the pandemic on growth and inevitable uncertainty about what their future plans would look like, they are demonstrating a clear resilience and confidence, with innovation seen as the critical driver to business success.

“Access to funding was seen as the number one barrier to growth and our survey showed that many start-ups were missing the opportunities available for funding support and collaboration to be truly innovative. Using these insights, we’ve compiled a strategic report, offering tangible solutions to the very real issues facing start-up businesses today.”

The Nexus Business Barometer surveyed over 100 start-ups across Leeds and the wider Yorkshire region, asking business founders about their attitudes, confidence levels and the hurdles they’re facing. The study revealed:

  • 67% of Yorkshire start-ups say that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their growth
  • Only 12% said the pandemic had not impacted their business
  • 51% are unsure about their future plans

But when asked to give feedback on their confidence levels and the importance of innovation to their future growth plans, the survey showed:

  • 71% of Yorkshire start-ups are confident about business growth in the next 12 months,
  • 96% of those start-ups believe that innovation is business critical
  • 29% said that the pandemic had actually had a positive impact on their innovation plans as they adapted to the new challenges

Asked about barriers to growth, the study found:

  • 70% of Yorkshire start-ups believe ability to access both funding and skills are holding them back
  • 43% of start-ups aren’t accessing the funding support available to them
  • Business confidence is 42.5% higher amongst those accessing funding support
  • 36% said they would welcome funding support

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, comments: “Innovation is a key factor in accelerating economic growth across the region and we hope this study will allow more start-ups to receive the support needed to overcome the hurdles the research identifies.

“The Leeds City region is home to a comprehensive support network that has been especially designed with start-ups in mind. I’d encourage entrepreneurs to invest time in identifying the hurdles they are likely to face in the months ahead and tap into our rich network to overcome the challenges of tomorrow.”

Dr Martin Stow added: “Our region has the potential to be a global centre for innovation-driven enterprises. We know from our own Nexus member businesses that there is huge potential to scale fast, create jobs and generate vital products and services to drive the economy forward.

“We’re aiming to produce the Nexus Business Barometer report annually in order to compare and contrast progression, changing attitudes and the impact of world events on our region’s start-up economy. We know that innovation and community are the differentiators for successful businesses and at a time of unparalleled change and challenge for business owners they are critical to growth. We will use the findings to continue to refine and target the support we provide to those businesses, ensuring they can optimise their innovation and grow our region’s economy.”

Download and read the Nexus Business Barometer report.