Skills shortages and red tape are holding back businesses in the East of England, a new survey of companies in the region has revealed.
But the research completed for the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) also found many firms are increasingly optimistic about their future.
The survey found that 55% of firms in the East believe regulations and red tape are a factor in inhibiting growth.
It found that about 26% of firms felt that skills shortages were a factor.
Signs of confidence
The survey found that in the East of England 15% of businesses reported increased orders over the past 12 months, one of the highest percentages in the country.
David Marlow, chief executive of the EEDA, said: "I am encouraged to hear businesses are feeling more optimistic about their economic prospects for the future and it is something we have picked up in our own research.
"Overall we have seen signs of confidence in the region's economy despite the recent unemployment statistics."
Richard Tunnicliffe, regional director for the CBI in the East of England said: "The prospects for the East of England economy are brighter than they were six months ago but at the same time, firms face a tighter squeeze on profits from higher energy and staff costs."