City Deal endorses recommendations of Brighton Fuse Report

City Deal endorses recommendations of Brighton Fuse Report
The government have announced investment in Brighton that responds directly to the recommendations of The Brighton Fuse

photo credit: Jay Gooby

The government have announced a 'City Deal' for Brighton that responds directly to the recommendations of the Brighton Fuse report from NCUB, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, University of Brighton, University of Sussex and Wired Sussex.

£170 million of investment is to be made into the city to develop a 'Tech City South', building on the strengths of the existing creative and digital industries cluster in the area.

The Brighton Fuse report provided the evidence base for the investment by demonstrating the success story of 'fused' businesses, which achieve growth almost three times as fast as other businesses, and how support for the established cluster could have a positive effect.

Specific recommendations of the report embraced by government in the City Deal announcement include investment in additional office space, which was identified by the Fuse report as the main barrier to growth locally, and improving digital infrastructure in the area. 

David Docherty, CEO of the National Center for Universities and Business said "I'm delighted that the Fuse report we developed and our work with the Brighton Fuse team has helped land a major deal for the city".

At the centre of the new City Deal is the renovation and expansion of New England House (pictured). The building currently accommodates 96 creative and digital businesses employing 1,000 people, with a waiting list of 67 companies seeking space. An investment of £24.53m will enable double the number of people to be employed in the facility.

The Brighton Fuse report identified lack of office space as the main barrier to growth locally, in particular for the crucial high growth firms, with over half of those with over ten employees identifying office space as the biggest barrier to growth.1  

Investment in the building is also designed to develop it as a knowledge hub, hosting collaboration events and business support services for both companies and freelancers to encourage innovative ideas. This includes a 'one stop shop' service for business support to be developed by the Coast to Capital local economic partnership.

To build the hub, a FuseBox centre from Wired Sussex and Brighton and Hove City Council is planned, addressing the needs of smaller companies operating in a disruptive, digital business market. The Brighton Fuse report included the case study of the FuseBoxAmp pilot run by Wired Sussex, arguing that "the FuseBox has already gathered significant momentum and importantly, legitimacy amongst the CDIT sector", a judgement that has been backed by the government.

New England House will also be the centre of bespoke business support programmes, including a university led programme to support rapid growth firms. Other elements of the support offer funded by the Regional Growth Fund include promoting the benefits of university research facilities to small businesses, supporting graduate entrepreneurship and developing a local part-time MBA course. In these ways, the announcement makes clear the City Deal will build on the strength of having three universities in the region - Brighton, Sussex and Chichester – to support business.

The City Deal also includes a digital exchange to improve high quality internet connectivity to digital businesses that will support a network of 'growth centres'. These include centres for Clean Tech and Environmental Technologies and the Central Research Laboratory at Preston Barracks, which is backed by a £60 million investment from the University of Brighton and will create 740 net new jobs in an incubator for businesses linked to university research. 

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