THE number of North-East company start-ups is reaching pre-recession levels, with some towns and cities seeing record numbers of formations this year, according to new figures.

Darlington and York saw a record numbers of business start-ups - 140 and 409 - in the first quarter of this year, while Sunderland saw its highest ever number of company formations at 171 in the second quarter of 2012.

In Newcastle, there was the largest number of start-ups since before the recession started in 2007, with 583 forming in the first quarter of 2012 and 533 forming in the second quarter of the year.

Middlesbrough saw a return to the pre-recession numbers of companies formed last year, with 179 formed in both the first and second quarters of 2011, and this year seeing similar figures with 174 and 161 companies formed in the first two quarters.

These are the highest levels of start-ups in the region's towns and cities for quite some time, with the number of quarterly start-ups dropping in the last quarter of 2008 - one of the deepest points of the recession - to 76 in Darlington; 233 in York; 103 in Middlesbrough; 93 in Sunderland; and 336 in Newcastle.

The figures were collated by a UK company formation agent Duport Associates, which registers around 10,000 new companies each year using its Companies House approved software.

North East Chamber of Commerce head of member relations, Rachel Anderson, said: "It is reassuring to see so many new companies being created across the region and in most cases actually exceeding pre-recession start-up levels.

"This renewed positivity has also been reflected in NECC's Quarterly Economic Survey, which demonstrates that business optimism across the North East is at its highest since 2008 when the economic downturn began.

"It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why there has been such a rise in the number of new firms, but one reason could be that people who have lost their jobs or feel frustrated by the lack of opportunities during the recession are being creative and seeking new avenues and exploring innovative approaches.

"While some will fail there will be many who succeed and this all adds to the experience of the workforce and the overall entrepreneurial ability of the region - people can always learn from a failure and try again, something that is positively encouraged in the US.

"There is also considerable evidence of companies in this area winning business out of region because the cost base is lower and this can sometimes give a leg up to a start-up business."