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Start-ups at Business Gateway Edinburgh showed an unexpected fall in February after marking time for most of the past year.

Latest figures from Edinburgh Economy Watch show that 63 new start-ups were supported by Business Gateway in the capital during February, 35 fewer than last month and 41 fewer than the same month last year.

The sharp fall in start-ups breaks a trend of steady start-up activity over the past ten months and could have been expected to be on a rising trend given the evidence of strengthening recovery across almost business sectors in the past year.

By contrast, 1,640 new business incorporations were recorded in Edinburgh over the three months to March, a rise of 14.7 per cent on last month and a 14.6 per cent increase on the same period in 2013.

The council’s monthly Economy Watch also revealed that its foreign direct investment Markets database recorded just one foreign direct investment in the capital during February, and three investment or expansion projects by overseas firms - eleven fewer than recorded in February and ten fewer than in the same month last year.

According to a council spokesman,  the number of FDI projects in Edinburgh fell from 33 in 2011 to 22 in 2012 and then to 11 in 2013. “It would appear that this fall is consistent with global trends in FDI mainly due to continued macroeconomic fragility and policy uncertainty for investors.

“If we then project forward, given that there were four projects in the first two months of 2014, if this trend were to continue, then this would translate to 24 projects over the course of 2014.

“On business incorporations and Business Gateway starts-ups it’s not always appropriate to make a direct comparison between the two.

“New business incorporations show the number of newly registered limited companies recorded with Companies House

“These include all new businesses that launch and form as limited companies, as well as those that are launched as special purpose vehicles where, for example,  a company may be set up to manage a single transaction.

“On the other hand, Business Gateway start-ups show the number of new businesses that actually start trading after receiving support from Business Gateway. This includes small micro businesses, sole traders, partnerships, social enterprises, as well as registered limited companies who have sought support from Business Gateway.

“Business Gateway will only record a new business start up when a client confirms they have started, and we received fewer confirmations in the last month compared to the same month last year.”

But he added, “We saw more people in Edinburgh in February than in the same month last year and we expect to see a spike up in the March figures.

We’ve never been busier in terms of contact with enquiries via email and telephone.”