WHAT comes to mind when you think of the top business hotspots across the UK?

Perhaps the bustle of London? Trendy Manchester, or maybe Glasgow?

It might have taken you a while to guess the region leading the way - Torfaen.

Move over Silicon Valley, we've got the 'Silicon Valleys' on our doorstep and, according to analysis by experts at Oxford Business College, it's Cwmbran rather than Canary Wharf, Pontypool rather than Park Lane, and Blaenavon, not Baker Street.

In news which might have come as a surprise to many, Torfaen has bucked the trend to be crowned the country’s new-business hotspot.

The region saw a net increase of 285 new businesses in the past year.

Some 590 firms were incorporated in the area in the past 12 months, while 305 closed.

Torfaen’s success is being attributed to focusing on encouraging innovation, cultivating entrepreneurial activity and creating the right environment for business to thrive.

The Welsh borough is one of only nine parts of the UK with more businesses opening than closing in the last 12 months.

It is also one of only three locations to experience two years of consecutive growth

Councillor Joanne Gauden, Torfaen’s executive member for the economy, said: “As part of our ambitious plans for the county we’re encouraging innovation and enterprise and promoting Torfaen as a great place to do business.

“We’ve created the Torfaen Business Direct service as a one-stop shop for advice and we’re focusing our support on the Foundational Economy by wrapping financial support around entrepreneurs, developing local networks, and identifying suitable premises.

“We are also providing support for existing town centre businesses looking to diversify, modernise and develop local supply chain networks.

“In the autumn we will launch a new business grants programme which supports work we’ve already undertaken to expand flexible business spaces for co-working, opening test trading spaces with rent free periods and providing small business marketing support."

The picture for the rest of the nation is bleak, according to the study.

More than 294,000 businesses were incorporated in the UK in the last year and 355,650 firms closed, making a net fall of 61,645.

England saw a drop of 52,630, while Scotland’s business community fell 3,535. In Wales this drop was 2,130, and Northern Ireland saw a decrease of 2,350.

Dr Ventsislav Ivanov, business expert and lecturer at Oxford Business College, said: “The outlook for businesses at the moment is bleak, with soaring energy costs and inflation putting firms under pressure, so Torfaen deserves credit for bucking the trend.

“Torfaen’s business leaders and local government have created the conditions for startups to flourish, and waived rates for certain business types to encourage growth.”