By Daniel Hunter

There are now three million active businesses in the UK, according to the latest Entrepreneurs Index from Barclays and BGF.

The index found that there was a 3.9% in the number of active companies in the first six months of 2014.

In a further sign of the nation’s growing entrepreneurial spirit, the report found that there is still a high proportion of early-stage entrepreneurs in the UK in comparison to pre-2011 levels. Just over 7% of 18-24 year olds are in the process of starting or are already running new businesses. Between 2007 and 2010, it was between 5.5% and 6.4%.

Richard Phelps, Managing Director, Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, said: “The findings of this edition of the Entrepreneurs Index are really exciting. Many people have backed themselves, embraced entrepreneurship and started new businesses. It is clear that the conscious drive from Government and the private sector to encourage small businesses has truly embedded entrepreneurship into the UK business psyche.”

Stephen Welton, Chief Executive, BGF (Business Growth Fund), said: “It is very encouraging to see not only a swell in the number of new businesses starting up, but also that people are starting to realise the wealth behind these businesses once again. As the British economy continues to recover and investors return to the market, entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunity to either de-risk their financial positions or to sell minority stakes and take on growth capital. This could be for a wide variety of reasons from working capital to funding strategic acquisitions.”

“It is particularly interesting that the ‘new economy’ sectors of IT, computer services and pharmaceuticals have seen the most activity in terms of share sales. There is certainly more of a culture within these sectors for welcoming external investors and making acquisitions and but as equity investors, we have also seen a good proportion of old economy sectors, such as manufacturing, looking to capitalise on an improving economy and start investing in plant and machinery which wouldn’t have been the case three or so years ago.”

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