Luminous PR hit Brighton (AKA Silicon Beach)
So long, big smoke
There’s no better place to make the most of the great British summertime than by the seaside. That’s why the whole Luminous PR team are heading down to Brighton this weekend to soak up some sun, sea, and chips.
It’s not a total jolly though. We’re heading to the south coast to check out some of the startups based there, as well as the Brighton tech scene.
Dubbed ‘Silicon Beach’, Brighton is an emerging hotspot for tech startups and other small businesses outside London. According to February’s Tech Nation Report, there are over 15,500 people employed in digital tech jobs in the Brighton area. As well as that, the Startups Cities Index reveals there are over 2,000 startups based in Brighton.
Like all good tech tourists, we’ve done our research. Here are a few highlights from the Brighton tech scene that we’re most excited about checking out.
Places to work
As we’ve mentioned before, we big fans of co-working spaces. As you’d expect for any bubbling tech scene worth its salt, Brighton has a handful of brilliant co-working spaces.
Based on Brighton’s busy Gloucester Road, The Skiff is perfect for entrepreneurs who are big on collaboration. As well as the obviously benefits of being nautical-themed and just a stone’s throw from the sea, this co-working space encourages its ‘Skiff Mates’ to work together. Check out this testimonial on their website: ““12% of my income in 2011/2012 was work for other members of The Skiff, 50% was work from Skiff Mate recommendations.” Oh, and you can bring your dog to work.
For those looking for a co-working space that isn’t necessarily an office, the Werks Group also provide a photography studio, meeting rooms, virtual office services, as well as office spaces to rent all over Brighton. They’re big on community, too, and host regular events. Whether you’re into life drawing, vegan food, or Persian music, there’s plenty to bond with your co-workers over.
Anyone who’s ever been to Brighton knows it has a vibrant coffee scene. Even better – a large number of the top cafes and coffee shops in Brighton have free wifi. If you’re a fan of great coffee and eclectic interior design, the Marwood Coffee House is the place to go. For somewhere a little more understated, try Redwood Cafe. They even have a nice outdoor seating area, perfect for rare glimpses of the sunshine.
Groups to join
No startup scene would be complete without a selection of meet-up and networking groups to take care of your extra-curricular activities.
Wired Sussex is a large membership organisation, open to freelancers and businesses in the digital, media, and technology sectors. Their website provides access to support and information on a wide range of topics, including a jobs board, a directory of like-minded businesses, and an advice-filled blog. They also host regular events on things like the Internet of Things, Women in Tech, and Hackathons.
For those who like their networking with a side of curry, Brighton Business Curry Club really does what it says on the tin. The group meets up once a month at the Bali Brasserie in Hove. You network, you eat curry and network, then you network some more. Simple.
Of course, there are many more ‘niche’ networking groups, too. Functional Brighton, for example, is a networking group especially for functional programmers. The group meets on every third Thursday of the month, at The Skiff in Brighton. Topics up for discussion include things like static vis dynamic typing, real world experience and functional styles, and the specifics of different functional programming languages (such as Scala, Haskell, and F#).
Events to attend
Brighton may be a small town, but its twice-yearly search marketing event, Brighton SEO, is attended by professionals from all over the world. Whether you’re a marketer, or your run your own business, Brighton SEO provides all the search knowledge you could possibly need.
This year’s Autumn event is on 2 September, with speakers including Will Critchlow (Distilled), Malcolm Coles (The Telegraph), and Paul Curry (Buzzfeed). For those who really want to get their teeth into SEO and search marketing, there’s also a series of in-depth training sessions held the day before. Trust us when we say it’s great fun, and you’ll get the opportunity to meet some truly interesting people.
Another great event is the month-long Brighton Digital Festival, which takes place across Brighton and Hove every September. Last year’s festival saw 190 separate events across Brighton and Hove, with 160,000 visitors from all walks of life. One of the best parts is that anyone can arrange an event, so if your business has a brilliantly techie idea, here’s your opportunity to show it off.
While we’re at it…
…We’d like to give a well-deserved shout out to some of the most vibrant startups taking Brighton by storm.
TribeHive specialise in building mobile apps. But not just any apps – most of their clients have been UK-based football teams. We love their niche, plus their bee-themed branding.
One startup we had to mention, just for the sheer quirkiness of their innovation is 3Dify. What do they do? Well, they build 3D body scanners, that allow people to print a miniature model of themselves.
And finally, here’s one Brighton-based startup that’s made a pretty big name for themselves – Crunch are an online accountancy service beloved by other startups and small businesses everywhere. They deserve a shout out simply for making book-keeping and accounting a doddle.
Brighton, we’re coming for you!