The research was complied by Informi, a website offering free practical advice and support for small businesses.
It looked at the 63 largest towns and cities in the UK to determine which created the most friendly environment for small and medium-sized businesses to succeed.
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Factors included the number of highly-skilled workers, affordability of housing and current business stock in the area.
Brighton – which also came top of Informi’s search in 2016 before being replaced by Ipswich last year – had the fourth highest business stock, or total number of businesses, per 10,000 population (of 453 businesses).
It also ranked highly for digital connectivity and for the percentage of the population holding a qualification equivalent to NVQ Level 4 or above.
Mick Taylor, director of Brighton-based gift voucher scheme Goodmoney, said: “Collaboration is at the heart of the sharing economy in Brighton.
“We’re just scratching the surface of what we can achieve, working together for mutual benefit. But there’s a huge base of proud independent stores – and locals are keen to support them to ensure that the area continues to thrive.”
Edinburgh came second in the rankings, followed by Northampton.
London took fourth spot, being held back by overall levels of digital connectivity and ranking poorly for the ratio of house prices to average wages. Other areas to have appeared in the top ten include Cambridge, Reading and Warrington.
Steven Drew, spokesperson for Informi said: “Small businesses provide the backbone for the UK’s economic strength, even – perhaps especially – during uncertain times, with the nation holding its collective breath for what any Brexit deal may look like. It is in the best interests of every town and city throughout the UK to create the right environment for entrepreneurs as thriving businesses contribute to the wealth and prosperity of local communities.
“However it’s all too well-established a fact that so many SMEs are doomed to fail, due not only to market conditions not working in their favour, but often a lack of awareness of the various steps that owners need to take to help their business get off the ground. Those thinking of starting a business should seek out support – such as our how to start a business in 20 days eBook – to help them in their early days.”