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Reading stands out in new KPMG Report

Reading and the surrounding area shines, according to a new Local Business Pulse Index (LBPI) report from KPMG UK and the University of Nottingham.

The report offers a picture of the current and expected economic profiles of local areas across Britain and uses AI technologies to pinpoint trends. The aim is to enable businesses and local government to prioritise what type of investment is needed and where. In the third quarter this year, the local area ranked among the highest quartile in the country for venture capital growth and research and development (R&D) expenditure. The LBPI also placed Reading in the top quartile across Britain for expected growth in employment and business revenues. It also improved the town’s rank for new business creation, moving up from the third to second quartile.

“The LBPI gives an emerging view of the markers and characteristics of the new post-pandemic economy. It provides a complementary, and critically objective, analysis for local leadership, investors, and businesses alike,” said Emma Gibson, office senior partner at KPMG in the Thames Valley. “Giving real time insight like this can help focus investment and strategic decisions based on real time data. The data also shows us how local areas compare to others, if goals are being achieved, and importantly, where there may be gaps. The economic map of the Thames Valley is diverse, but the real strengths of Reading have shone through. There is incredible appetite to continue investing in the region is really encouraging, not least in our vibrant and complex technology scene. This is driving R&D innovation and new business creation, which are fundamental to growth in a modern economy.”

The report also created seven ‘clusters’ to focus on a particular strength of a local area. These are business creation; sales growth; high investment; employment growth; research and development; consumption growth; and high productivity. Reading was placed in the national ‘sales growth’ cluster for Q3, reflecting the high demand for goods and services in the area and the prospect of strong employment growth. The LBPI will be updated each quarter so users can see where local areas have moved from one cluster to another, reflecting changes in the local business cycle.

Karl P Edge, head of KPMG private enterprise in the UK, said: “As the economy continues through a challenging period, there’s growing emphasis on local authorities to define their economic strategies and leverage profile of their business community. That’s why we’ve created the Local Business Pulse Index to help pinpoint the growth opportunities across England, Scotland and Wales. From the data, we can see there are distinct hubs for job creation, use of technology when working remotely, and investment. The need to understand local economies is crucial in prioritising investment and informing wider policy and with this tool, we can start to map out where our priorities should lie.”

Paul Britton, Chief Executive of Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, commented: “We are delighted to see that Reading is performing in line with its potential on a number of different metrics; some of which include R&D Expenditure, Venture Capital Growth, Expected Growth in Sales and Employment. The town’s ranking in this report showcases its quality as a business location.”

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