Representatives from some of the city’s digital businesses met on 15 May to discuss how Brighton should promote itself to potential inward investors and new businesses. The discussion formed part of a wider consultation that is taking place to inform the development of a new City Prospectus.
- Its human scale, with islands of world class activity within some of its businesses;
- Its connectivity to London and internationally via Gatwick;
- The collaborative way that people work; networks and openness;
- People in Brighton are not just interested in growing their businesses – they want to be part of something bigger;
- Its language skills and the flexibility of its workforce (often skilled people who have worked in London, but are now looking for part-time work whilst they are doing other interesting things);
- There are significant lifestyle factors – thousands of people are prepared to commute to London every day, but continue to live in the city – the city is very family friendly;
- Brighton is a good home for service businesses that need expert staff. The main successes of the last few years have been service businesses like iCrossing, EPIC, Babel, etc… Notable exceptions are some of the games and TV companies like Relentless and Ricochet. We have no significant track record with pure online start-ups;
- The Universities including the art school and specialist units like the teaching hospital and the new UoS business school and SINC;
- Brighton’s digital sector is a remarkable asset and continues to account for a highly disproportionate amount of employment growth – providing good jobs in the process;
- Stability – people move to Brighton but much less frequently move away. A Brighton workforce is likely to be a stable workforce;
- Ideas is a good concept – it has historical resonance (The Royal Pavilion) – but it’s not distinctive enough.
- Broadband connectivity needs to be improved;
- There needs to be a more visible Innovation Centre – e.g: New England House – Brighton’s digital sector is invisible in the city;
- Space for growing businesses is in short supply and not on flexible terms. – another reason for wanting to develop New England House;
- There is still considerable social deprivation – most of the local business growth is digital but the socially deprived in the city are unlikely to benefit directly;
- Start-ups and investments are being wooed away by incentives offered by other locales;
- The Universities, particularly UoS could be better engaged locally;
- Many Brighton businesses, in the digital sector and elsewhere, are small or micro SMEs – not many grow up to become larger businesses;
- Many start ups and small businesses have difficulties accessing funds/investment;
- There is an element of grandiosity – the city is really just a small seaside town with limited space and if investors want to recruit and house a large workforce quickly, they might be better off in a bigger city.
- There needs to be a vision and work out our audienceWe could focus on the R&D elements of larger corporate, rather than looking to attract who large corporates;
- We could focus on specialist business sectors – Brighton is truly world-class in games development, games localisation and online search – target these (and any others);
- We could focus on attracting investment into existing start-ups and small companies, rather than (or as well as) looking for relocations.
What we can do:
- Find out what factors influence investment decisions;
- Be clear about our audience and what we want to acheive;
- Focus on where we can effect changes;
- Improve connectivity;
- Get the Council to recognise the importance of and invest in events like the Digital Festival;
- Support the universities;
- Support artistic endeavours and innovation;
- Develop and live a clear vision for the city;
- Ensure that our supporting infrastructure, such as schools, are good.
What we shouldn’t do
- Be overly aspirational so that the messages don’t reflect reality;
- Look to attract large corporate, but work with Crawley on this;
- Forget that the overall aim should have a social dimension.
You can find out more about about this project here: http://www.thisisregeneration.co.uk/?page_id=419