Business in Bath
Known for its Roman baths, Bath is one of the UK's top tourist destinations. The historic city sits in the valley of the River Avon and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bath is just 11 miles (18 kilometres) south-east of Bristol and 97 miles (156 kilometres) west of London. Along with Bristol, Bath boasts a talented workforce thanks to four top universities in the region. The two cities are the heart of the South West of England's economy with vibrant clusters in aerospace and advanced engineering, creative and digital industries, high tech, low carbon technology, and financial and professional business services.
Once an important manufacturing hub, Bath is now home to approximately 8,500 businesses in various sectors according to the Office for National Statistics. These businesses employ about 92,000 people. Bath typically has a relatively low unemployment rate when compared with the rest of the West of England. Along with Bristol, the region has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the UK.
Two of the city's most important sectors are creative and digital industries and high tech, both of which have significant clusters that thrive in Bath. Software development, data management and analytics are particular strengths in the area's high tech industry. According to Office for National Statistics, Bristol and Bath have more individuals in knowledge-based businesses than Oxford and Cambridge combined. The city also benefits from a strong and growing professional and financial services sector. Other sectors that perform well include publishing, advanced engineering and electronics, environmental and low carbon, and retail, leisure and tourism.
Bath and North East Somerset is home to one of the most skilled populations in the West of England. Bath is also home to a large student and graduate population. According to the Office for National Statistics, more than 44 per cent of the area's residents are qualified to an NVQ 4+ level and approximately 25 per cent are employed in professional occupations. In 2015, TechNation recognised the region as having the largest number of tech and digital jobs outside of London. Major employers include the National Health Service, the University of Bath and Bath Spa University, and the Bath and North East Somerset Council.
Bath benefits from an excellent location and infrastructure. The city is close to Bristol and with easy connections by rail and road to London. Bristol Airport provides connections by air to many major European capitals and other international and domestic destinations. Excellent broadband infrastructure means that businesses benefit from minimum download speeds of 20 megabytes per second. Experimental close loop high speed internet infrastructure also offers technology firms the opportunity to test new innovations. There is also plenty of talent in and around Bath. Historically, Bath has been a centre for innovation in art, science and engineering for centuries. The region is home to four universities including the city's own University of Bath and Bath Spa University. Several major companies including Future Publishing, MBT, Polamco and Rotork also play a major role in developing local talent.
The Bath City Riverside Enterprise Area is one of the South West's most important investment areas. The area will be seeing the city's most significant regeneration and development opportunities since the eighteenth century. The 98-hectare zone for economic growth has been designated by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. It includes nine development sites including industrial, residential and innovation quarters as well as a new city gateway. Development will bring new workspaces and homes as well as cultural and leisure facilities to support the city and surrounding area.
Support for Businesses
Bath and North East Somerset Council delivers a free business support service for businesses at all stages of development. Advisors provide assistance with business planning, financing, intellectual property and more. The council's Think Local procurement strategy is also designed to increase opportunities for local suppliers. It also operates a Buy with Confidence scheme that helps residents find businesses vetted by the council. Business rate relief is also available for eligible businesses.
The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) also provides advice on recruitment, business development and other areas of interest for business owners. The LEF also provide details on national training and skills initiatives for businesses. With offices in Bristol and Swindon, Business West connects business in communities throughout the region including Bath. This is done through Chambers of Commerce and both free and fee-based support services including training workshops and clinics.