January 13, 2020

Silicon south coast: the UK’s growing coastal tech hubs

Brighton and Bournemouth don’t usually receive attention for their tech, but they have amongst the highest ratio of tech startups relative to other new businesses

Kim Darrah

2 min read

Entrepreneurs located in the UK’s south coast cities of Bournemouth and Brighton are some of the most likely to be focusing on tech for their new business ventures, according to new data from UK think tank the Centre for Entrepreneurs.

The data shines new light on the amount of tech activity taking place in certain cities outside of London that often get overlooked in conversations about the UK's main tech hubs. 

The research shows that 681,704 new businesses were launched across the UK over the course of 2019, including everything from corner shops to utility firms. Out of this total, 45,000 were classified as “tech startups” — meaning they were identified as having a focus on tech.


In absolute terms, London created by far the most tech startups, with 17,401 newly launched in 2019. 

But interestingly, cities including Brighton and Bournemouth stand out for having a strikingly high number of tech startups relative to other types of businesses.

On average 6.6% of all new businesses launched in 2019 were classified as tech startups. But for the area covering Brighton and Hove, tech startups made up 15% of new businesses. 

Zara Ransley, cofounder of MyPocketSkill, a Brighton-based startup that connects young people to part-time jobs and teaches them about managing their finances, said that she was drawn to Brighton by the people and facilities. 

"We looked at a number of places but Brighton made sense for us. Partly it was because my cofounder was based there, but it also had a good combination of people and workspaces," she told Sifted.

"There are two universities so it is easier to [recruit] younger people. There are creative and techy types. And one can't underestimate the importance of the beach. In London we would have to work a lot harder to to recruit people. Here the promise of a more relaxed vibe and a better lifestyle helps us," she added.

Ransley also said that it is becoming “noticeably easier” to receive grants outside of London. Her startup recently received a grant from Coast to Capital, a local funding organisation. 

Tech startups were most highly represented in Bournemouth, where 28% of all new businesses were tech-focused. Cambridge, which is well known as a hub for high-tech university spinouts, was also above average, with tech startups making up 12.5% of all new ventures. 

While London pulls in far more funding than these cities, just 8% of its new businesses are tech focussed.