Brighton startups are thriving, and the city by the sea is an increasingly tempting spot for entrepreneurs looking to escape London. A 2014 initiative invested £170 million into the area’s up-and-coming Silicon Beach, and the city has since been crowned startup capital by Lloyds Bank.
Brighton hosts a particularly high concentration of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) startups: it boasts an impressive four times the national average, according to Immerse UK.
As tech hubs go, Brighton is one of the largest outside London and—according to Lloyds—has a remarkable 87% survival rate for startups. The city also has the third highest density of SMEs and the highest proportion of creative SMEs in the country.
Fintech provider Crunch, social media monitors Brandwatch and marketing platform StoryStream are three major players hailing from Brighton.
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Hatsumi explores the potential of VR for art therapy, particularly for people living with invisible issues such as chronic pain and mental health conditions. The BodyMap platform pairs evidence-based pain management techniques with a creative interface: users can express themselves through art, develop a better sense of their body and practice mindfulness techniques, while practitioners get a better insight into their patients’ experiences.
Pivotal Movement uses Strava technology to turn your energy burn into money for nutrition and health projects around the world. The not-for-profit tracks the calories you spend through exercise or everyday activity and exchanges them with its sponsors at a dollar-per-calorie rate to help tackle global hunger and obesity in one fell swoop.
Brighton edutech startups
Curiscope uses AR to bring science to life in classrooms. Its first product is the Virtuali-Tee, which works in tandem with a free app to teach kids about the human body.
MakerClub teaches kids programming through 3D printing. The startup, previously a single maker space in Brighton, now powers STEAM learning across 20 countries and is partnered with the Department for Education.
Brighton arts startups
Daisie, founded by Maisie Williams and Dom Santry, is a collaborative platform for artists everywhere. Functioning a little like The Dots mixed with Trello, it puts the focus on projects and people rather than follower counts and brands. A May seed round brought total funding up to a cool $2.9 million and the site has reportedly signed up its 100,000th member.
Mnemoscene helps to bring history and heritage projects to life through immersive technology. One such project is Nomad, a mixed reality experience for Somali communities in London: it layers archival objects, photographs, sound recordings and holograms to create a rich, contextualised experience.
Radicle is a peer-to-peer art marketplace for artists, galleries and collectors. Selling on the Bitcoin blockchain means that artists can track a piece’s ownership and earn money from secondary sales; it’s also helpful for proving authenticity. On top of that, fees are minimal when compared to working with a dealer.
Brighton product and lifestyle startups
Mojeek is the first search engine to completely eschew tracking. Search results are independent and unbiased, even for products, and the site is sustainably hosted to boot.
Mute (formerly Glued)
Mute encourages you to reduce screentime in order to be more present. Its positive feedback system focuses on days when you hit your targets, rather than when you miss them; it’s also able to give contextual encouragement based on location and time.
RubyMoon makes modern, sustainable, ethically made swimwear and activewear for women. 100% of profits are invested in female-owned businesses as small loans, so your purchase empowers women entrepreneurs.
Brighton B2B startups
Cyanapse uses AI to ‘augment human perception’, improving the way images and data are perceived. Its photo editor uses machine learning to enhance relevant features and can process large batches of images to fit a brand’s visual identity, fast.
Gorilla in the room
Gorilla in the room cleverly uses VR and AR to carry out consumer research for brands. Immersive research offers more precise data and insights: for example, brands can test shelf placement and receive a visual heat map showing where customers paid the most attention.
VRCraftworks works with brands to create immersive experiences using VR, AR, mixed reality and 360°. Clients include Audible, Grosvenor Casinos and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Zedify (formerly Recharge Cargo)
Zedify runs zero-emission urban logistics for local businesses, authorities, online retailers and national carriers. Originally Recharge Cargo, the last mile courier partnered with six other groups to serve hubs across the UK.
Brighton startup and entrepreneurial support
University of Brighton students and graduates have access to specialist workshops, mentorship and competitions throughout the year via the institution’s entrepreneurship support service, Beepurple. There’s also an intensive five-day summer course, UltraViolet, which covers the main points of setting up a business.
Brighton Digital Festival
Brighton Digital Festival is an open-programme festival celebrating creativity and digital culture in Brighton. Iterations go all the way back to the 90s, and previous festivals have drawn audiences of over 60,000 to 190 independent events.
Catch the Wave
Run by Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce, Catch the Wave is an affordable programme for residents looking to dip a toe into business ownership or build on their existing business. Workshops cost just £20 and attendees can book mentoring sessions with an expert in their field.
Digital Catapult Centre Brighton
Digital Catapult is the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation centre. Its Brighton outpost offers local entrepreneurs a state-of-the-art VR/AR facility, a 5G testbed and residency in a collaborative, well-connected coworking space.
The FuseBox describes itself as “a collaborative R&D space for people with bold creative, digital and tech ideas”. Powered by Wired Sussex, it offers coworking residencies at super low rates for entrepreneurs in emerging fields.
Wired Sussex is based in Brighton and offers training, networking and membership across East and West Sussex. It currently plays a major part in the running of The FuseBox, Brighton Digital Festival and Digital Catapult Centre Brighton.