The second largest city in Wales after Cardiff, Swansea lies on the sandy coast of South West Wales and is home to Swansea Bay, a popular local tourist attraction. As well as being a major city in its own right, Swansea benefits from its proximity to the Welsh capital, with Cardiff less than an hour away by car and train and Cardiff Airport (the nearest international airport to the city) an hour’s drive along the M4.
Still a major port city, Swansea does a lot of maritime trade with North West Europe, Ireland and the Mediterranean nations. If you plan to do a lot of intra-European trading, it could be a good option to locate your business.
Whilst the city is not as well-established as some as a centre for enterprise, its peaceful location has seen it become somewhat of an alternative hub for digital businesses looking to escape the bustle and cost of London.
Indeed, local tech firms are keen for Swansea to become known as a hub for enterprise, and the Swansea Start Initiative aims to remove barriers for entry for entrepreneurs looking to start or relocate in the region. The organisation offers a number of events and networking opportunities for digital firms looking for premises, staff and business partners.
53300: working age population with NVQ Level 4 and above (2014)
£427.1: Average full time weekly wage earnings (2014)
2 : Universities
For a city of its size, Swansea has a surprisingly large student community. There are two universities in the area – Swansea University and University of Wales Trinity Saint David (formerly Swansea Metropolitan University). In particular, Swansea University is largely engineering and computing-focused and works closely with local businesses to offer technical support, training opportunities, and skilled graduate recruits.
34.9% of the population (53,300 people) are of working age with NVQ level4 qualifications and above, putting it in the top 30 cities in the UK in terms of proportion of skilled recruits.
Number of new start ups (2014): 875
It is also cheaper than Cardiff in terms of labour costs, with low salaries compared to the rest of south Wales generally. Average full-time weekly earnings in 2014 stood at £427.10, substantially less than Cardiff’s £490 per week – so while you will be drawing from a smaller population, it should be somewhat cheaper generally
The tech scene is small but rapidly growing, and its close-knit nature in such a small city should help to forge strong business partnerships as a new start-up.
Survival rates (2009 – 2014): 38%
Swansea is not known as a major office location, due to its small size and somewhat out-of-the-way location, although you have a range of options when it comes to business parks both within and outside the city centre, including Matrix, Swansea West (with 20 hectares of land),Riverside, and the industrial-focused Ashmount Business Park.
The city offers a number of small grant schemes, although larger amounts are somewhat thin on the ground. The Local Investment Fund, partially funded by the Convergence European Regional Development Fund, will provide almost 2,000 grants of up to £5,000 to help new and existing businesses grow and expand.
If you are a business based in the city centre, the council currently has two grants available through the Building Enhancement Programme (BEP) for companies wishing to improve the appearance of their premises or shopfronts. Some support is also available from the Swansea Centre for Business, which provides subsidised training, professional advice and consultancy for start-ups and growing businesses based in the city.
Number of business deaths (2014): 705
The main business angel network in Swansea – and Wales generally – is xenos. It acts as an introduction service between businesses and local investors and has facilitated investments of around £200,000 in the past. Elsewhere, you can contact Angels Den which can connect you with regional advisers.
Quality of life in Swansea
£108,549: property price average (Sept 2015
68.19: Crimes per 1000 people (June 2015)
19.7mbps: Average broadband speed
One of the major draws of Swansea is that the cost of living is very low. The average house price for the year ending September 2015 was just £108,549, considerably less than Cardiff (£154,197) and one of the lowest for the southern part of the UK overall. Crime levels are also on the lower end of the scale; at just 68.19 crimes per 1,000 people, it compares favourably to similar-sized cities in the UK and makes Swansea one of the safest places to live in metropolitan Wales.
More generally, Swansea is a peaceful and visually appealing city, with its location on the Gower Peninsula offering spectacular views and earning it the status of the UK’s first designated “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”. With a somewhat quieter night life and cultural scene than the nearby city of Cardiff, there is still lots to do in Swansea, and the city offers a great point of access to the landscape and attractions of south Wales.