Brighton and Hove’s tech industry dominance was confirmed this year in an analysis by B2B service, Tech City UK. The findings highlighted the leading clusters which have formed since 2008 and how these regional digital communities are utilising Britain’s most important industry to drive national economic growth. This recent endorsement of Brighton and its tech prominence is welcome news to Brighton Council and businesses who have long supported digital innovation along the southern seafront.
Silicon Beach aspirations
Brighton’s tech scene has gradually assembled from humble beginnings. During the past decade, the lifestyle and competitive commercial prices has attracted cash-strapped startups. Over time, these startups have built up their own success stories to rival large London outfits. Brighton has always been pretty forthright in its aspirations to become a UK Silicon Valley, or ‘Silicon Beach’; a passion which endured the brutal economic downturn after the recession.
The intense promotion of Brighton’s IT cluster has proved to be an astute long-term plan by councils and businesses. This February, a Tech Nation Report revealed that the digital industry is now the most important sector in the UK with digital job growth predicted to outperform all other occupations by 2020. Following years of sharp property price hikes in the capital, almost three-quarters of the industry’s 1.46-million workforce now operate outside London, with Brighton identified as one of the fastest growing areas.
Big deals and benefits
Brighton’s creative edge is now attracting a new breed of digitally focused entrepreneurs. Businesses in the digital sector have increased by 91% since 2010, while more than 7,450 job positions have been created. Following the surprising resilience of the digital industry post 2008, large US companies took notice and started to slowly filter into the scene. US giant, Dyn, moved to Brighton in 2013, while a home-grown business, Spannerworks, became involved the US company, iCrossing, following a £10 million acquisition deal. This vibrant blend of SMEs and big names have culminated together to form the densest cluster of digital marketing agencies in the UK – 1% higher than London.
These large deals have brought publicity to Brighton that has been invaluable to the local economy. Before this surge in the technology industry, East Sussex was an established base for many of the UK’s key industries, including engineering, finance and business. As prosperity and business potential in East Sussex has grown, unemployment numbers have fallen for nine consecutive months.
An increasing amount of investment into the Brighton tech cluster has played a key part in its expansion. Large swathes of funding, like the £170 million Greater Brighton City Deal in 2014 and investments to New England House, has been injected into the sector with the aim of creating ‘Silicon Beach’: a rival to London’s Tech City.
This combination of investment and attractive business and lifestyle qualities has been the perfect formula for success in Brighton. Its close proximity to London and Gatwick Airport places Brighton in a perfect location to utilise and exploit its position as an industry leader. Now a popular commuter base for those working in London, the expanding tech cluster is predicted to grow further over time and close ties with the capital continue.
UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, said of the industry: “Backing the industries of the future is a key part of our long-term economic plan to support business, create more jobs and build a more resilient economy.
“The digital economy has become an integral part of our country and the rapid growth of many digital businesses has confirmed Britain’s position as a global hub of technology excellence.”
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