Boom in new Lancashire businesses is a Covid phenomena, awards sponsor says

Across the UK, new business openings were up four per cent last year on pre-pandemic levels and Shout Network, sponsor of the Start Up Business of the Year award in this year's BIBAs, thinks Covid has awakened a new entrepreneurial spirit in people.

By Tim Gavell
Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 4:38 pm

Data from the Office for National Statistics covering 2021 reveal a rise in the number of new businesses being registered in the UK compared to the numbers seen pre-Covid. Some 401,815 companies were started in 2021 compared to 386,200 in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Growtion Business Growth Index showed that Lancashire now has 6.1 per cent more active businesses than it did before the pandemic, higher than the national average.

Shout Network, which this Friday brings together more than 150 exhibitors and over 2,000 delegates for the Lancashire Business Expo at Preston's Guild Hall, is sponsoring the Start Up Business of the Year category in this year's Be Inspired Business Awards.

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Shout Network organises the annual Lancashire Expo at Preston Guild Hall whihc is due to take place on Friday, March 25 this year

It thinks the business birth rate rise has been driven by a new entrepreneurial spirit among workers whose jobs were affected by the pandemic.

Maria Coupe, director at Shout Network, said: "Life experiences often bring about changes in work, and this seems to have been the case with the pandemic. Speaking to a lot of our new members and people in the wider Lancashire business community, it seems that rather than be beaten down by the challenges of COVID, people have used the situation to their advantage.

"We know that many people had previously thought about launching their own businesses but were worried about income. I suppose the pandemic gave them the push they needed to get on with it!”

Maria said that the people behind start-up businesses overlook the opportunities that stem from shouting about their achievements in business competitions like the BIBAs.

Lulu performing at the BIBAs awards ceremony in 2018

"It can take some time for start-ups to feel like they’re part of the wider business community and have the courage to shout about their achievements, which puts them off getting involved in business awards like the BIBAs. But, actually, taking part in the BIBAs can provide a really valuable experience – there are so many people to meet and learn from throughout the process.

"As ever, I'm really looking forward to reading about Lancashire's newest businesses, how they've survived so far and what their future plans involve."

The deadline for BIBAs entries is 5pm on Friday, April 8. Visit

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