UK remains popular destination for EU business founders

By Lauren Fruncillo April 26, 2021 - 11:20 am

Recent research from Tide has shown that despite Brexit, the UK remains a popular destination for EU business founders with more than a fifth of all founders of live UK-registered businesses originating from outside the United Kingdom.

Following the Brexit deadline at the start of 2021, Tide collaborated with DueDil to analyse the contribution of non-UK nationality founders to the UK’s SME sector. As of the end of 2020, more than 1.5 million founders had non-UK nationalities. The data showed that the numbers of EU natives starting businesses in the UK has been on the rise each year since we voted to leave the EU.

EU founders (incl Irish, excl UK) 558,044 617,902 682,549 747,721 821,472
EU founders (excl Irish, excl UK) 469,668 524,225 583,511 643,593 711,871


Top founder nationalities

In the last five years, seven EU nationalities have seen the biggest growth in creating companies in the UK: Irish, German, Polish, Romanian, French, Italian, and Dutch. Of these, it was Romanian, Polish, and German nationalities that saw the highest growth since 2017.


Most Romanian founders are in the 30-40 year-old age bracket – almost 1 in 5 are younger than 30, and a third are aged 50+.

The top 3 industries for Romanian founders, as of end of 2020, include:

  1. Land transport and transport via pipelines (20,549 founders)
  2. Construction of buildings (13,019)
  3. Specialised construction activities (11,592)


Polish founders are in the 30–40-year-old age bracket, closely followed by the 40-50 age bracket – less than 1 in 10 are younger than 30, and 14% are aged 50+ bracket.

The top 3 industries for Polish founders, as of end of 2020, include:

  1. Land transport and transport via pipelines (16,080 founders)
  2. Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles (8,034)
  3. Specialised construction activities (7,658)


German founders tend to be older – the majority of German founders are in the 50–60-year-old age bracket – followed by 40-50 and 60-70. Just 15% are aged under 40, and 1 in 10 are aged 70+.

The top 3 industries for German founders, as of end of 2020, include:

  1. Office administrative, office support and other business support activities (37,230 founders)
  2. Other professional, scientific and technical activities (4,205)
  3. Computer programming, consultancy and related activities (3,779)

The findings show that the UK is still seen as an attractive place to live and work, and is still welcoming to EU business founders, even after Brexit.

  • Proud Romanian
    5 months ago

    The findings show that Europeans founded jobs BEFORE Brexit, not after.
    I want to see statistics on Europeans without the settled status creating companies in the UK.
    The statistics only demonstrate the big, fat, abject lie sprouted during Brexit that Romanians were beggars selling Big Issue, benefit abusers and criminals (as per Trevor Phillips, the great race expert) Did not Nigel Farage say he did not want Romanians as neighbours? Brexit was based on demonisation of Eastern Europeans! Now you discover they contribute to British economy.Ha, ha,ha…

  • 5 months ago

    how do you define a UK ‘business start-up’?
    incorporated or not?
    how do you exclude financial ‘vehicles”? – eg companies set up for a tax reason or to encourage anonymity?
    property speculation vehicles – how are these id’d and excluded?

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