Inner City 100

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Inner City 100 (UK)

Duration: 2000-2004

Project description

The Inner City100 project is an annual business index and research initiative in the United Kingdom led by the politically independent New Economics Foundation (NEF). The research helps to promote the market potential and support for regeneration that is led by enterprises.


Stimulating business development in deprived areas can prove to be difficult. Entrepreneurs may find the decision to be too risky. For this reason a competition between businesses in deprived areas was set up in the UK. The goal of the competition is to change the perception of the Inner City 100 from an unattractive area to a vibrant place. Business successes in poor areas are recognized to better the local area. For this project the IMD model (Index of Multiple Deprivation) is used. This index was first applied in 2001 en was later reinvented in 2004 and originates from the United States. With the help of the index the fastest growing businesses in the UK are acknowledged, especially in the London area.


Acknowledging the economic importance of inner cities, both as investment locations and a breeding ground for innovative business ideas and solutions; and the social importance of inner city businesses, which contribute to local employment and economic revitalisation.


The idea behind the Inner City 100 was conceived by Professor Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School, mostly from his work The Competitive Advantage of Nations, which outlined how the competitive advantage of the inner cities could contribute to their economic revitalisation. In 1994, he launched the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) in the United States. In June 2000, with financial support from the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest and in partnership with ICIC, the New Economics Foundation (NEF) took the lead to establish the Inner City 100 in the UK. The first Inner City 100 UK index was published in November 2001. In subsequent years, the Inner City 100 UK has brought to light the entrepreneurial spirit and business success stories that exist in the UK's inner cities.


By uncovering and highlighting fast growth inner city businesses, Inner City 100 UK aims to show that inner cities can be competitive areas for doing business.



Research is an important activity that helps promote market potential and support for enterprise lead regeneration in UK inner cities. Areas of interest in this field include:

  • Measuring business impacts and economic linkages of inner city firms
  • Sustaining the enterprise culture in our inner cities
  • Business retention in the inner cities
  • Entrepreneurial mentoring
  • Succession planning in family-owned businesses

The Inner City Entrepreneurs' Fund

Besides research, finance is an important part of the project. The Inner City Entrepreneurs' Fund exists to provide financial support to London's inner city businesses in a key area for growing companies. Grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 (€1,350 - €13,500) are available to eligible companies for training in management, workforce and skills development. Although the type of training is not prescribed by the Fund, the applying company must a make a strong case for why a particular training is needed to develop and sustain its business.


The Fund is targeted at growing SMEs located in London's inner city areas. Although open to all eligible firms, applications are encouraged from the manufacturing sector as well as applications that will develop management opportunities for black and minority ethnic employees. The Fund can either be used for an existing structured training programme or for a bespoke programme specifically developed for a company and workforce.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the Fund businesses must be situated in an eligible London area. They must also:

  • be independent
  • be at least five years old
  • demonstrate turnover growth over a five year period
  • employ five or more people
  • act in a socially and environmentally responsible manner

Application process

Once the application is completed documents and information are received within a period of six weeks. Members of the Inner City Entrepreneurs' Fund Steering Group assess the applications. If an application is successful, a grant is given for 70% of the cost of the proposed training programme.


Below are the key characteristics attributable to winners of the 2003 Inner City 100 Index:

Succeeding in the inner city

  • Average 5-year growth rate of Inner City 100 winners was 575%
  • Inner City 100 winners have created a total of 5,417 jobs in the past five years
  • Despite extraordinary growth rates, only 8 firms return a loss. The combination of fast growth with profitability underlines the long-term sustainability of firms


  • The typical firm has an average sales turnover of ££7.4 million, 82 staff and was founded 10 years ago.
  • The Inner City 100 cover a broad range of industry sectors. Manufacturing is represented (7% of the list), as is construction (10%). Wholesale and retail (15%) and business activities (27%) are the two most common sectors.
  • Three of the top ten firms on the Inner City 100 Index were founded and are managed by ethnic minority entrepreneurs.
  • 35% of firms on the Inner City 100 Index have female founders or co-founders.
  • 40% of firms' managing directors had immediate family members that owned and ran their own business.


  • 83% of Inner City 100 firms rate their location as a good or excellent place to do business.
  • 96% of the Inner City 100 are involved in their community, for example through mentoring of at-risk young people, sponsoring local events, clubs and charities as well as supporting staff in their community activities.
  • 97% of the Inner City 100 are positive or very positive about the outlook for their firms over the next five years.


The use of the UK model needs to be analyzed more around and within the city in private and public sectors.

Research reports analyzing the opportunities and constraints of doing business in the inner city have been published since 2001. For more information contact Inner City 100.


Inner City 100
c/o New Economics Foundation
3 Jonathan Street
London SE11 5NH

Tel: +44 20 7820 6372
Fax: +44 20 7820 6301


For all Inner City 100 marketing and communications enquiries contact:
Corrina Cordon, Marketing & Relationship Manager
Tel: +44 20 7820 6392
Fax: +44 20 7820 6301