Described as ‘the capital of the UK’s rebellious alternative economy, Brighton’s diversity, distinctiveness and innovative streak gives the city a uniquely competitive edge.
Brighton consists of a predominantly small-micro SME economy with one of the highest business start-up rates in the country, according to the Brighton and Hove Economic Strategy 2013 -18 report. The most attractive sectors important to the economy are culture, leisure and tourism, and creative, digital and IT. This progressive selection is reflective of its exciting environment.
Brighton is an appealing business proposition; its economy grew by around 2.5% in 2016 and a UK Powerhouse report predicts that the value of goods and services produced in Brighton will grow by £90 million during 2017. This is despite the challenges of Brexit uncertainty, rising inflation and the expected drop in investments by businesses in the UK. Its unemployment figures have fallen by more than 50 per cent over the past five years and youth unemployment is half of the national rate.
Digital and Technology Hub
Brighton has reinvented itself over the last ten years and is now home to well over a thousand creative and digital companies. The city’s two universities provide a highly skilled workforce contributing to the burgeoning Creative, Digital and Information Technology (CDIT) sector. In fact, Brighton and Hove has now been dubbed the UK’s Silicon Beach! A recent study by the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton estimated that the digital and creative sector contributes a massive £1bn a year to the local economy.
Local business heroes based in the area include Brandwatch, a social media monitoring company and Ribot, a design and development studio who produce apps for Virgin Atlantic and Channel 4. Crunch, a digital firm of accountants also feature in The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 list of fastest-growing technology companies. Wired Sussex, an independent organisation supports the CDIT sector in Brighton and Sussex and the city plays host to an abundance of digital industry events including Brighton Digital Festival, Develop and dConstruct which draw digital experts to the area and create ideal networking events.
Brighton also has a dynamic Chamber of Commerce which offers a wide range of accessible networking events. They offer a variety of frequent training sessions, ranging from an A to Z of podcasting to game prototyping workshops, to learning how to brand your business. In October, the Chamber hosts the annual Brighton Summit, this year’s theme is ‘Embracing the Unknown’ and details are available here.
But it’s not just digital and creative companies making Brighton it’s home, Brighton is ideally situated for both international and European-based companies looking for a UK base. It has a close proximity to London, to Gatwick Airport and two large ports in the region.
Attracting Sustainable Companies
Brighton and Hove is also the first city to develop and adopt a sustainability action plan and this desire for an environmentally sustainable economy offers further opportunities for businesses. Numerous environmental companies are based here and are supported by the renowned expertise of the two universities. Furthermore, The Greater Brighton City Deal aims to deliver additional economic growth by further developing the city’s eco-tech sector. It also aims to increase the provision of modern business space, particularly ‘incubator’ space for SMEs. Should your company’s interests lie in this sector, this is the optimum location.
Alternatively, if you’re a company with cinematic or musical connections, a wealth of networking opportunities exist due to the cluster of film and music companies in the city. Nearby Hove is known as ‘the birthplace of film’ and Brighton also has its own annual film festival, CINE-CITY, every October. Music initiatives include The Great Escape, a festival for new music from all over the world held in May. A great ambassador for Brighton is the DJ/recording artist Norman Cook/FatBoy Slim who lives in the city.
Brighton benefits from a vibrant workforce and start-up ethos which matches the city’s exciting and diverse culture, a combination of ingredients that creates an innovative digital and wider industry mix. So, it’s easy to see why demand for office space is high in this inventive and entrepreneurial city.