9 November 2016

Catapult fires into the future

Businesses in Brighton & Hove will continue to benefit from council support for digital innovation, bringing them together with technology experts and universities.

The ‘Digital Catapult,’ based in New England House in Brighton, helps businesses of all sizes to make the most of technology and turn creative ideas into practical applications. It’s a way of providing space and expertise to help grow the digital economy locally, and to share business and technological ‘know how’ to create new commercial opportunities.

The University of Brighton, American Express and Gatwick Airport are part of the collaboration along with dozens of small and medium-sized businesses in the city and experts in leading edge technology. The project is being delivered by established membership organisation Wired Sussex which has a track record of bringing digital businesses together, along with expertise drawn from five universities.

Creative and Digital IT (CDIT) is the fastest growing sector in the city and the Digital Catapult is fostering both the digital economy and helping the wider business community through the development of technologies that can be applied in a range of business sectors.

Councillors at next week’s Economic Development & Culture Committee will be asked to support the continued involvement of the council in the project.

The council will be refurbishing the space using Coast to Capital Local Growth Funding and has offered a three-year rent-free period to the Digital Catapult which will be located in the unit next door to the successful Brighton Fusebox.

It will provide space to deliver new products and services such as the latest 5G technologies. These technologies dramatically increase the speed at which data can be transferred across the network, for example downloading full HD films in seconds and improving thousands of internet-connected devices.

Councillor Alan Robins, chair of the committee, said: “This is a great venture which builds on the city’s existing strengths and reputation for being creative in all things digital. It gives businesses access to a range of knowledge, experiences and data which will help them develop, create jobs, and also lead to better services and customer experiences.”

Brighton’s Digital Catapult focuses on projects that encourage innovation in location-based data – known as the Internet of Place, as well as three other technologies, Internet of Things, 5G connectivity and Virtual Reality. The Brighton Catapult runs events, workshops and residency programmes for businesses around these technologies on themes that have commercial potential, including retail innovation and positive ageing. The aim is to ensure the city continues to be at the forefront of digital innovation and grow the value of its knowledge economy

Eric Kihlstrom, co founder, KareInn and UK Ambassador to Aging 2.0, said: “We're a startup focused on providing a better quality of life for older people. The people at Digital Catapult see the world the way we do, where better human relationships are formed with technology led by good design and an understanding of the people it serves. Being a resident at the Digital Catapult Brighton has been transformational for our business.  We've co-designed public workshops, received mentoring on our strategy and been introduced to really interesting potential partners. In particular, we worked with the Digital Catapult Brighton to organise a "Care Clinic" where we gained access to the market, it would have been too difficult for us as a startup. company.  We are really lucky to have such a precious resource in Brighton.” 

Brighton & Hove’s Digital Catapult is one of only four regional digital catapults in the UK. It is part of the national scheme 

The Economic Development & Culture Committee is on 17 November. Read the reports here (the Digital Catapult report is agenda item number 34.