Brighton is a city of seaside fun, vegan cafes and increasingly tech start-ups. Move over Silicon Roundabout in London – in the last four years Brighton has been named both the UK’s most entrepreneurial city and the place most suited to starting a business.
Accountancy institute the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) analysed 64 of the UK’s biggest cities to gauge how well suited they are to starting a business. AAT cross-referenced data across seven key criteria, ranking Brighton in first place for its high number of start-ups, density of SMEs and strong digital connectivity.
Brighton’s digital economy is now worth over £1bn per annum, which puts it on par with tourism. The city’s fastest-growing sector, today it represents 15% of all employment and generates around £720m of GDP each year. Meanwhile creative industries across Greater Brighton generated more than £1.5bn in turnover last year, finds a study from the University of Sussex.
Brighton’s share of immersive companies those focused on virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies is four times bigger than the UK averageImmerse UK, May 2018
As a poster child for digital innovation, the combination of Brighton’s reputation as a creative hub together with its transport links to London (fast trains just 52 minutes) and Gatwick Airport clearly strike a chord with ambitious, tech-oriented businesses. The Immerse UK report published in May 2018 found that Brighton’s share of immersive companies – those focused on virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies – is four times bigger than the UK average.
The tech hub moniker goes far deeper than a proliferation of IT start-ups. Tech hubs create an environment specifically targeted at helping young technology companies thrive by encouraging experimentation, not demonising failure, and helping businesses network with other like-minded individuals and enterprises.
The support available to digital sector businesses plays a huge role in supporting Brighton’s digital economy. Launched in spring 2015, Digital Catapult Centre Brighton (DCCB) is one of three regional hubs in the UK that helps innovators bring digital services and products to market. It works closely with local business, academia, the public sector and the other Digital Catapult Centres across the UK to drive innovation and create millions in linked investment and funding.
The University of Brighton is the lead academic partner in DCCB, which focuses specifically on projects that encourage innovation and value from real-time and location-based data – known as the Internet of Place. The Centre creates links between universities and business that enable cutting edge, pre-commercial R&D findings in the Digital Catapult focus areas to be converted into commercial market opportunities, which can be prototyped and piloted by start-ups and SMEs.
As part of its support programme, Digital Catapult has set up a 5G testbed in Brighton, designed to create an ecosystem that allows local start-ups and scaleups to develop, test and demonstrate applications that use 5G technology prior to nationwide rollout. Corporates provide the SMEs with markets and market validation, expertise and capacity and academic institutions provide research expertise.
From a recruitment perspective too, basing your business in a tech hotspot like Brighton also makes your recruitment more efficient, bearing in mind that there is a bigger tool of people with appropriate skillsets already working locally.
Altogether, Brighton is clearly a great place to start your business.