There are more than 16,000 businesses in Brighton according to the latest data from Brighton & Hove Economic Strategy, with more and more new businesses emerging each year. It’s no wonder that Brighton consistently features on lists of the best places to start and develop a business.
As Head of Member Engagement at Brighton Chamber, I am out and about speaking to businesses every day and here are just a few of the many reasons they give for why they thrive in the city.
Businesses here are well-served by a comprehensive ecosystem of support, whether you’re a start-up, an established company or looking to scale. Organisations like Brighton Chamber provide networking and learning opportunities, including the popular Catch the Wave support series. Wired Sussex supports businesses in the digital and tech sector while Barclays Eagle Labs and the Sussex Innovation Centre offer workspace and support to encourage growth.
The NatWest Accelerator, where the Chamber is based, has been supporting entrepreneurs in Brighton since 2015. Offering a fully-funded programme of business support, several successful businesses have received their support including OMGTea (who recently appeared on Dragons Den) and Simply VAT.
Leaders who make things happen
Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Brighton. It might be the sea air, or the progressive, open mindedness of the city that allows ideas and innovation to flourish. There are some impressive entrepreneurs making waves in Brighton and they are leading the way so that others can start up and grow.
Hannah Dawson, Founder of tech start-up Furtli is one such leader. After experiencing the pains of running a small business and noticing a gap in the market, Hannah set about creating an all-in-one forecasting and reporting platform for small businesses. Asked why Brighton is a great place to do business, Hannah said: "The 16,000 small businesses in Brighton reflect the entrepreneurial mindset of this city and as Futrli is designed to help ambitious small businesses with their cashflow, being here puts us at the core of our customer base.”
Collaboration and networking
Brighton is a collaborative city. If you’re looking for people to work with, there is no shortage of talent to help you with whatever you need to see your business grow, whether it’s digital marketing, designers or finance support. David Lockie, Founder of Pragmatic, the UK’s leading Wordpress agency said: “Brighton is a fantastic place to start and grow a business. It's a great mixing pot of creative talent from games through to digitally-native businesses, musicians and agencies”.
While Brighton is known for its digital, tech, IT and creative industries, other sectors like food and drink are on the rise with brands like Brighton Gin and Bird & Blend Tea Co. thriving in Brighton and beyond.
Networking plays a big role in connecting people with each other across the city with over 40 different networking groups in the area. Making connections is essential for any business to thrive whether it be for peer support, getting new business or simply keeping up with what’s happening in Brighton. On this, David continues: “It's a proper Goldilocks zone - big enough to always meet new people but small enough that reputation and relationships matter”.
The emergence of innovative co-working spaces has nurtured this collaborative spirit. From PLATFR9M who opened their third space in Hove Town Hall in 2018, to the brand-new Plus X opening in 2020 on Lewes Road, there is no shortage of fun, creative spaces to meet and share business ideas.
In 2018 Brighton was voted the best place to start up a small business and I think that trend is set to continue, if the number of businesses joining the Chamber in 2019 is anything to go by!
The unique combination of an active business support ecosystem, the culture of collaboration and connections, and the people who make things happen here is what makes Brighton one of the best places in the UK to run a business.
Amy Lishman is Head of Member Engagement at Brighton Chamber. For more information on how we support businesses in Brighton to meet, learn and grow, contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org