05 November 2014

Local centre in Brighton to sit alongside newly-opened London headquarters to accelerate UK’s digital growth.

The Digital Catapult, a national centre set up to rapidly advance the UK’s best digital ideas, has today announced its intention to appoint a consortia led by Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to establish one of three local Digital Catapult Centres.

Due to open in March 2015, the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton will be located in the city of Brighton & Hove and will work across the whole Coast to Capital region which includes West Sussex, the Gatwick Diamond, Croydon, Lewes and Brighton & Hove.

With a united aim of generating thousands of new jobs, driving innovation at a local level and creating millions in linked investment and future funding by 2025, the three local centres will support the London King’s Cross Digital Catapult Centre which was opened today by Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for the Digital Economy.

The Digital Catapult Centre Brighton will provide a place where start-ups and small businesses in the creative and technology sectors can develop and showcase their digital ideas and products. They will also be able to use it to connect and collaborate with larger businesses, universities and public sector organisations. The centre will host a high bandwidth connection linking it with two additional centres planned for Bradford and Sunderland, and also with the Digital Catapult Centre London.

The South East based consortia, led by Coast to Capital LEP was selected following an open call for partners in July 2014. It was chosen from 17 LEPs and local consortia bids from around the country involving more than 50 business, local authority, SME and university partners (1). 

Projects undertaken at the Centre will be led by Coast to Capital LEP in collaboration with the core delivery partners - the University of Brighton and Wired Sussex. They will focus specifically on encouraging innovation and value from real-time and location-based data (the Internet of Place). Other project partners include American Express, Brighton & Hove City Council and Gatwick Airport.

Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for the Digital Economy said “It is an exciting time to be a tech business in the UK. Our digital economy is already one of the strongest markets in the world, valued at more than £100 billion. Growth areas including the Internet of Things and digital creative industries are opening up a range of new opportunities for companies in the sector.

“The new Digital Catapult Centre will provide a thriving, state-of-the-art hub for some of the country’s most innovative digital companies and entrepreneurs.”

Activity will run until March 2018, and the consortia will also be tasked with:

  • Initiating and collaborating with the Digital Catapult on a range of innovative projects designed to be accessible to start-up and SME businesses to use and learn from.

  • Creating flexible and fluid links between universities and the local business community that enable university led R&D in the Digital Catapult challenge areas to be converted into commercial market opportunities which can be prototyped and piloted by start-ups and SMEs.

  • Helping to develop the higher level skills needed to realise and exploit new data and media capabilities.

Neil Crockett, CEO of the Digital Catapult said: “The truth is the most exciting digital innovation is happening in local communities, like Brighton, which are bringing together new ideas, businesses, universities and the public sector. As a national centre, it is important we support and collaborate with these local innovation communities who are doing amazing things.  The open call has only reinforced our view that there are many brilliant digital innovation communities across the UK, and we hope it is the start to building a whole range of exciting future relationships.”

Tim Wates, Chairman of Coast to Capital LEPsaid "Coast to Capital LEP is really excited to have been chosen to host a Digital Catapult Centre. Our proposal was created with the active engagement of universities, large international businesses, SMEs and start-ups and we believe that is why it delivered an approach which was both innovative and grounded.  Our ‘Internet of Place’ approach puts people and their actions centre-stage in the creation, evaluation and use of data. It takes us beyond the Internet of Things by focusing on the real-time context in which data is generated. We are confident that the work our Centre undertakes will open up opportunities to create genuine value and competitive advantage, not just for the Coast to Capital region but nationwide."

Phil Jones, Digital Champion at Coast to Capital LEP said “Digital Catapult Brighton will operate around three principles: innovation, collaboration and openness. The projects it houses will provide real opportunities for start-ups and small digital businesses to work with each other and with universities and large corporates to turn ideas into activities with real value to them.”  

Chris Thompson, Partnerships Director at the Digital Catapult said: “The Coast to Capital led consortia demonstrated a long-term commitment to supporting business creation, growth and economic impact through data-led innovation.  They also clearly presented how the Catapult could add significant value to their broader local initiatives and link in with existing university, EU, national and regional funding sources. We hope to work closely with them in the next three years to encourage some truly disruptive innovations.”

The Digital Catapult will initially support Coast to Capital and its partners with resources and collaborative support of up to £500,000. This includes the cost of setting up the local Digital Catapult Centre, costs for developing and delivering projects agreed and aligned with the Catapult’s focus areas and for use of Catapult resources to support engagement and initiatives.

The Digital Catapult builds platforms for UK SMEs to innovate on at speed and with less risk, so new digital products and services can be accelerated to market. It works with a range of partners interested in the success of the digital economy including large businesses, start-ups and SMEs and the research and academic community.

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