Some 39,000 people started a new company in the first three months of this year, a 4% drop on the same period in 2011, according to research by ING economists.
The slow-down is due to reduced economic confidence and most people who do go it alone do so out of necessity rather than choice, ING said.
The financial services group expects some 123,000 new companies to be set up this year, down 0.5% on 2011. Most are located in the central urban belt.
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