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The growth of the Brighton cluster on the other

Once in place, groups of firms can then build up from

hand offers a number of insights for public policy. It

what they have and take advantage of the available

suggests that while talented people and innovative

freelance talent, arts and cultural amenities, and

firms can be attracted by local benefits, that on its

universities and colleges, until a critical mass of firms

own isn’t enough to generate a cluster. This should

is in place for contracting and collaborating. This, in

caution against zero-sum policies that attempt to

turn, generated a stronger local capability to produce

build clusters by attracting talent from other parts

and innovate.

of the country, through policies like tax-breaks or subsidies. This often simply moves talent around at considerable economic costs without helping the pool of talent to grow. In effect, such policies reflect a wealth transfer from the poor to the rich, without

The development of local knowledge occurred within formal and informal settings. Universities provided talent, and importantly, the foundation of an ability to learn over the employee’s lifetime. Within

improving overall performance.

a cluster there is also a need to address long-term

Nor does the growth of Brighton provide much

a major constraint on growth. In Brighton we see

support for notions that clusters can be created from

‘aggregator organisations’ emerging to generate

scratch, particularly in highly innovative industries

economies of scale in this talent development.

like biotechnology, nanotechnology, or graphene, if

Similar organisations have been found in other areas

firms do not have strong commercial links. Having

with large concentrations of firms in the creative

strong local demand, in this case initially from

digital industries. In television production, the BBC

London, was vital for the emergence of the Brighton

often plays a similar role.

cluster. Without demand, expensive science-push style policies that generate technological value, without much thought for how that value will be captured and commercialised, are likely to be

talent improvement, which the survey highlights as

These organisations play an important co-ordinating role in addressing the numerous constraints on the growth of the Brighton creative and digital cluster.

ineffective, much like pushing on a piece of string.

These constraints on growth were highlighted in the

The experiences of Brighton suggest existing features

economic situation, and firms lacking profits for

of a local economic environment become attractive

reinvestment), Market (specifically lack of skills and

at particular points in time, in ways that are probably

an excessive workload), and Mastery (which related

impossible for policy makers to predict in advance.

to the firms profile, competition in its markets, and its

Brighton was lucky in being able to attract talent and

lack of bargaining power). The key issues driving and

had a range of venues and events that could provide

constraining growth in the cluster are therefore not

a setting for networking and collaboration.

just related to firms being able to create value for

survey as relating to Money (specifically the current


The Brighton Fuse  
The Brighton Fuse