Brighton | The Silicon Beach

Brighton - the silicon valley

Brighton is a seaside resort in Sussex. It is also affectionately known as ‘Silicon Beach’ and has been ranked the fifth best place to start a business. A significant factor in this ranking is the high business survival rate of 44.2%. Brighton is renowned for its digital, cultural, and creative sectors, as well as environmental, health, and life sciences. If you’re considering expanding into the UK, here are some compelling reasons to explore Brighton.

Economic Vibrancy

Brighton’s population climbed to 276,400 in 2021. The city is nnown for its diverse communities, vibrant cultural scene, and large LGBT population. Brighton boasts a GVA per head of £24,989. [1]

The city excels in digital technology, artificial intelligence, and immersive technology, with the ICT and digital sector growing at an impressive rate of 40% in the past five years. Brighton’s creative-tech cluster is now a leading European cluster, with over 1,500 high-value businesses.

Strengths lie in the following sectors: digital advertising and marketing, gaming, app and software development, and data management and analytics. The city hosts major events such as BrightonSEO, which is the largest search engine optimisation event in the UK, and Develop, which attracts over 1,500 game developers globally.

In the creative space, Brighton is home to the Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe Festival, along with other major events such as Artists Open Houses, Made in Brighton, and The Great Escape.

Brighton is home to over 400 advanced engineering firms, which benefit from Brighton University’s Advanced Engineering Centre. The financial and professional services sector is also a major employer, with over 19,000 people working in this region.

Strategic Infrastructure Investment

Brighton benefits from excellent transport links, including a well-connected railway station with a 62-minute train journey to London. The city’s close proximity to London has fueled business growth in recent years.

The Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) has funded many of Brighton’s infrastructure projects, including a multimillion-pound investment program aimed at enhancing sustainable transport infrastructure, reducing congestion, and increasing connectivity across Burgess Hill.

Education and Innovation

Brighton hosts two leading universities: the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex, which together created The Brighton & Sussex Medical School. Brighton is the first city region in 40 years to be designated a UNESCO biosphere.

The University of Brighton is renowned for art and design, with famous alumni, the fashion designer, Julien Macdonald. Other specialisations include pharmacy, biology, biomedical sciences, chemistry, and ecology.

The University of Sussex has a global reputation for life sciences, with Nobel-prize-winning scientists among the alumni: Sir Harry Kroto and Sir John Cornforth. The university is known for groundbreaking research in cancer, neurodegeneration, ecology and conservation, neuroscience, and drug discovery.

Championing Sustainability

Brighton elected the UK’s first Green MP. The City Council has a Sustainable Buildings planning requirement mandating that all new developments must be net zero-carbon.

Brighton’s coastal location and natural assets make it an ideal location for environmental businesses. Both universities have world-class expertise in environmental science. The University of Brighton houses a Centre for Sustainability of the Built Environment. The university created the Waste House in 2013 which is a ‘living laboratory’ for ecological architecture design. It’s Europe’s first permanent public building which is made almost entirely from discarded or unwanted materials.

Innovation Hub for Entrepreneurs

Brighton has a vibrant startup ecosystem and a growing number of SMEs contributing significantly to the economy. The city offers a variety of co-working spaces, including, Platf9rm. There is high-speed internet access, access to venture capital, and a supportive business environment, making Brighton a highly attractive business hub.

Support for Local Businesses

Brighton Chamber is a membership organisation for businesses of all sizes. Their members are part of a vibrant business community which helps them to access support and come together to learn and network. 

BIPC Sussex is part of the British Library’s National Network of BIPCs. Sussex-based businesses can access business support, events, workshops and one-to-one clinics.  The regional centre for Brighton and Hove is accessed at Jubilee Library.

Sussex Innovation is a business incubator which provides business support and consultancy. From their base at the University of Sussex, they give founders business advice, strategic insight and inspiration to build impactful businesses. Their team of specialist advisors have all been on their own entrepreneurial journeys and understand what it takes to nurture an idea into a successful business.

Success Stories

Brandwatch was founded in Brighton in 2007 and has since been acquired by Cision in 2021. They provide consumer intelligence and social media management to enable companies to monitor their brand’s online presence. 

Crunch Accountancy was founded in 2009. It was launched as an all-inclusive service for freelancers, contractors, and small businesses, bringing together easy-to-use online accounting software with in-house accredited accountants. 

Plug-in Media is a Brighton-based digital production company, founded in 2003. They are now a leading kids’ content production company. In 2012, the company diversified into original IP production, bringing Tee and Mo to CBeebies as a suite of web games.

Why Choose Brighton?

Brighton’s combination of economic vibrancy, strong educational institutions which retains a large proportion of their graduates, commitment to sustainability, and supportive business environment make it an ideal location for businesses looking to thrive in the UK.