New research, carried out by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub, suggests that the UK may have overtaken the US as the global centre for engineering start-ups.
According to the study, 63 per cent of London engineers have founded their own business, while for the UK as a whole, the figures stands at 34 per cent, compared to 27 per cent in the US.
Interestingly, the research also found that a generation gap has opened between young graduate and academic entrepreneurs and those over the age of 40. In fact, just one in 10 of those over 40 have started or considered starting a business, in contrast to a third of those aged 21-30 and half of 31-40 year olds.
As a spokesman for the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Committee commented, the UK has lagged behind the US in commercialising its world-class research in the past, so it is encouraging to see a new generation of engineering entrepreneurs.
However, the research also highlighted that only 15 per cent of engineers based outside the capital had founded their own firm, possibly because of the fear of failure, as almost a quarter of those in this group said they were afraid they might not succeed in their own venture.
The figures prompted a spokeswoman for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to call on the Government to provide more support for new engineering firms at a localised level.
She said that the UK has “fantastic regional capabilities and heritage”, from the high-value manufacturing heartlands of the Midlands through to the heavy industry of Wales and the flourishing start-ups of Manchester.
She added that engineering research is already well distributed throughout the UK, so start-ups, many formed as University spin-offs, should be supported more to ensure the regions can prosper.