A new report into Brighton’s phenomenal creative growth reports that the digital economy within Brighton and Hove is now worth more than £1 billion per annum, which makes it equal to tourism in value. While tourism is not a growth industry, the number of tech start-ups moving to Brighton continues to rise , meaning that before too long it will be the number one source of jobs in the region.
Brighton is now what’s termed a digital cluster meaning it’s a focal point for the industry nationwide, and is attracting both investment and talent to the region. So what are some of the reasons for the enormous proliferation of web design, app development, gaming, and tech start-ups in the seaside town of Brighton? The digital sector here is beginning to set the tone of the city in a way that San Francisco’s did 15 years past. Rents are going up, bearded geeks with laptops frequent the city’s caffeine producing establishments. This article looks at some of the possible reasons for the evolution of tech in Brighton.
What led to Brighton’s emergence as a digital centre?
The parallels with San Francisco are undeniable. Both are countercultural cities by the sea, priding themselves on a unique, independent spirit. Geographically both are hilly, favouring brightly coloured paintwork on their buildings. At the time of the tech-boom San Francisco’s rents were considerably cheaper than those in well-developed tech centres like Silicon Valley, and then of course the city offered strong tax incentives to tech investors. What has happened in Brighton is not dissimilar:the city decided quite early on to focus on the digital economy. Much of the credit must be laid at the feet of an organisation called Wired Sussex. Established as an offshoot of the Sussex Enterprise Chamber of Commerce in 1997, it was one of the first not-for-profit business support providers to digital companies in the south-east. In addition to this ground-breaking company, the presence of two sizeable universities have also been cited as a key to the town’s growth.
Geeks follow the Brighton lifestyle
As per a recent Guardian article, technology companies in Brighton represent at least 15% of the city’s overall job market. Of course, talent follows a growing job market but, prior to this, the actual history and culture of Brighton, is geography and atmosphere, cannot be excluded from any argument as to why so many people decided to live and work here. The quirky hodgepodge of the North Laines, the plethora of excellent cafes and shops, the wide expanse of the English Channel with its crashing surf, and sticks of multi-coloured rock, all set against a backdrop of the South Downs must be one of the reasons why so much talent has left London in its dust and headed to the city by the sea.
The Digital Catapult Centre
The more recent arrival of Brighton’s Digital Catapult Centre is proof of the city’s place as a tech centre rather than reason behind it. Intended as a collaborative space renovation catapult centre is funded by government body innovate UK. Gatwick airport have put funding towards it, as have American Express. The idea behind it is to turn locally born digital ideas into reality thereby furthering the town’s reputation as a tech mecca.
Who are the biggest tech players in Brighton?
Although this is changing on a daily basis, so the most exciting companies in Brighton include@
Madgex – pioneers are some of the world’s most innovative job board technology
Clearleft – all-round user experience guru’s and founders of the UX London conference, to name a few of their achievements.
I Crossing, now owned by the Hearst Corporation is apparently one of the world’s largest media companies and a huge digital marketing behemoth.
Crunch – over the last five years these guys have become the dominant force in the U.K.’s online accounting market. There is software and pioneering content marketing strategy has made them one of the defining figures in the Brighton tech scene.