Tech City Contender: BrightonΓÇÖs Silicon Beach
WeΓÇÖve visited Silicon Fen, Silicon Walk and now Silicon Beach. For the final instalment in our Tech City Contenders series, weΓÇÖre heading to Brighton ΓÇô home to one of the fastest growing tech scenes outside London.
Its digital economy is growing at 2.5 times the national average* and itΓÇÖs currently placed fifth in the UK by the Centre for Cities for the number of startups launched. ThereΓÇÖs a lot more to Brighton than beaches, a thriving cultural scene and a reputation for a laidback lifestyle.
While these are part of the charm for many startups choosing Brighton as a base, the strong performance of its tech scene and proximity to London (just under an hour from London Victoria by train) make a solid business case for this Tech City Contender.
The town also has a reputation as a place where artistic creativity mingles with tech-based talent, explaining the number of digital agencies and games studios which have sprouted up here.
WhoΓÇÖs based here?
According to Tech Britain, web design (17.3%), B2B solutions (17%) and consulting (14.4%) together make up almost half of the Brighton tech scene. Mobile tech is also well represented, making up another 9.2%, while gaming companies account for a further 4.5%.
Two Disney-owned companies can be found here ΓÇô childrenΓÇÖs gaming website Club Penguin and games studio Black Rock ΓÇô while Shoreditch success story Mind Candy has an innovation lab in the town.
Other notable tech companies based in Brighton include:
- Brandwatch: social media monitoring tool used by large brands including KelloggΓÇÖs, Laterooms.com and Sky News
- Story Stream ΓÇô social media content curation tool for brands; clients include Nokia, Porsche and Getty Images
- Pure360 ΓÇô email marketing platform
- Madgex ΓÇô provider of job board software
- Minglur ΓÇô free conference calling service
- ClearLeft ΓÇô user experience consultancy and an established name on the Brighton tech scene
- CompletelyNovel ΓÇô self-publishing platform for novelists.
- Fresh Egg ΓÇô digital marketing agency with clients including Network Rail, Eurostar and John Lewis – can also be found in nearby Worthing.
For startups looking for extra support, there are a variety of co-working spaces, like The Skiff, which bring together freelancers and small business owners to work side by side. Many of these places will also offer networking and learning events and work hard to foster a community within their walls.
For more structured support, there is The Happy Startup School. ThereΓÇÖs something very Brighton about this company, which provides a wide range of support for startups whose primary goal is happiness, not profits. TheyΓÇÖre not anti-profit however, and many businesses should be able to enjoy their wide range of business learning events, which cover everything from finding funding to co-creating ideas.
Brighton tech community: learning and networking
Leading the way for BrightonΓÇÖs digital and creative community is Wired Sussex, a membership organisation which provides companies and professionals with a wealth of support from training to networking, campaigning to conferences.
Looking for a place to expand your digital horizons and network with a very broad range of tech industry people? Add the Brighton Digital Festival to your calendar. Supported by the Arts Council England and Brighton & Hove City Council, this annual event is a celebration of all things digital. Last yearΓÇÖs event spanned WordPress workshops, creativity for coders, a 3D printing exhibition and film-making.
Brighton Farm is a regular networking event for the townΓÇÖs new media freelancers, working across disciplines such as web design, web development, and content marketing.
More formal learning opportunities can be accessed at Silicon Beach Training which runs courses on everything from project management to mobile development. Meanwhile, Lean Startup Brighton is ideal for founders interested in using Lean methodology to run their business.
Tech talent pool
In addition to the tech talent from the two local universities, BrightonΓÇÖs laidback vibe and sunny beaches continue to lure London-based graduates and more experienced professionals who want a less hectic pace of life.
Key courses taught at BrightonΓÇÖs universities:
- University of Brighton: Tech startups should look out for graduates in Digital Media Design, Computer Science, Digital Games Production, Digital Media Development, and Software Engineering at undergraduate level. Computer Science is also taught at postgraduate level, along with Digital Media Production, Software Engineering and User Experience Design. A wide range of business and management qualifications are also offered here.
- University of Sussex: Based on the outskirts of Brighton, the university currently offers degree level courses in Computer Engineering, Computer Science (with or without Artificial Intelligence), Advanced Computer Science, and Games and Multimedia Environments. In terms of business courses, Business and Management, Economics and Management Studies, and Marketing and Management, are a small sample of a large and varied selection. The MSc in Technology and Innovation Management is also likely to be of interest to tech startups.
The Big Picture for Brighton: A Growing Economy
As the digital economy continues to grow, Brighton is well-placed to take advantage of the upward trend. The townΓÇÖs digital economy is already growing faster than the UK average and as more businesses ΓÇô both startups and more established companies ΓÇô look for more affordable alternatives to London, the high standard of living and creative culture of Brighton single it out as a solid choice.
The Government has already pledged ┬ú5m to provide ultrafast broadband services for central Brighton, while the City Council believe that the area could generate an additional 20,000 jobs over the next twenty years.
WhereΓÇÖs the best place in the UK for launching a tech startup? Do tech startups really have to head to London for the best chance to succeed? Tell us what you think.
Read the full Tech City Contenders series here:
*Research by University of Brighton and University of Sussex