Digital economy

The digital economy theme brings together expertise from across all three COREs whose work aligns most closely with Connected Futures; that of Centre for Digital Media Cultures, and Centre for Secure, Usable & Intelligent Systems with innovation management experts, CENTRIM. It builds upon the University’s nationally and internationally recognised research in digital economy in the Brighton Fuse and Brighton Fuse 2 projects, led by Dr Jonathan Sapsed during his time in CENTRIM and then progressed in collaboration with Professor Gillian Youngs of the School of Media, to include the University winning the bid to be the major local partner in the first iteration of the Brighton Digital Catapult Centre Knowledge Transfer (KT) project that aimed to accelerate research impact.

This University of Brighton research and enterprise legacy, led to the potential of a further £3m worth of current digital economy projects below, won and led by Connected Futures leadership, Professor Karen Cham and Jen Wells. Our major strategic partnership with Gatwick Airport Ltd aligns our current research and enterprise activity with the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (C2C LEPs) Strategic Economic Plan for the region, Gatwick 360. This, in turn, is at the core of the Connected Futures internationalisation strategy aligned with the Department of International Trade’s Britain Is Great Creative Technology campaign.

Launched at CreaTech Mumbai in February 2018 by Prince Edward, this campaign is led by Baroness Rona Fairhead who chaired the Council for Industry and Higher Education taskforce and published the first ‘Fuse Report’ The Fuse: Igniting High Growth for Creative, Digital and Information Technology Industries in the UK (2010). Professor Karen Cham was an invited speaker at CreaTech, alongside the NHS, Jaguar Landrover and Framestore, showcasing the best of British creativity and innovation in Film, Music, Industrial Design, Healthcare, Immersive Tech and Gaming industries. This event led to £58m worth of business and the UK-India Tech Partnership. Connected Futures is aiming for a formal creative technology KT partnership with India as part of this strategy.

Current projects

Read more about the first iteration of the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton. and watch this space for forthcoming announcements on a £600,000 extension of the University’s Catapult partnership to directly support Connected Futures KT and research impact across Digital Health, Digital Manufacturing, FinTech and more.

5G Brighton

As part of Digital Catapult Centre Brighton, we are co-leading the Brighton 5G Testbed project, a named part of the Government’s 5G strategy. With £1.2m funding from the C2C LEP and in collaboration with 5GIC at the University of Surrey; this aims to support SME growth through the development of Next Gen product and services. You can find out more here – 5G Brighton testbed leads the way for UK national rollout

To the right, a mobile phone handset demonstrates a live speed test of the 5G Brighton signal. Note the ‘5GBR’ insignia in the menu bar instead of one of the big providers. Part of this project will aim to ensure that a range of the 5G bandwidth is left unsold to corporates and left for community access.

Data Innovation & Research Lab

We host a £150,000 LGF-funded Digital Catapult Centre Brighton ‘satellite’ – a business-facing, cross-university, B2B, Data Research and Innovation Lab on our Moulsecoomb campus that runs high spec data analytics machines. We aim to focus on a cross-institution theme of ‘data privacy, ethics and nudge’ and investigate best practice to advise policy.


Our £1.3m ESIF and ACE funded ‘Digital Research & Innovation Value Accelerator’ (DRIVA) & Arts DRIVA projects provides creatives and technologists with access to Gatwick Airport Ltd big data and an innovation support programme with a dedicated online portal, live events, funding and residencies. Recently awarded the title of the Most Innovative Airport in Europe by an industry peer group of over 92 airports and airlines, the airport is at the heart of the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, Gatwick 360 that sets out the scope for economic growth in an area which is hugely important for the national economy and has Gatwick Airport at its heart.

DRIVA & Arts DRIVA will deliver major international research outputs alongside significant local economic impact through the data Research & Innovation Lab. This work we aim to dovetail with 5G to create a step change in interdisciplinary, international and external facing Practical Wisdom in the Connected Futures domains of Digital Health, Transport, Mobilities & Smart Cities and Immersive Media.

Research Legacy

The Fuse Reports
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded Brighton Fuse a two-year research project, which mapped, measured and assisted Brighton’s Creative Digital Information Technology (CDIT) cluster in 2013 and supported Knowledge Transfer (KT) between higher education, creatives in arts and culture, and Brighton’s digital technology sector. Brighton Fuse 2 (AHRC £217,766) expanded upon this project to map, measure and enhance the same CDIT cluster. Once again, CENTRIM and Arts & Culture at the University of Brighton collaborated with the University of Sussex (SPRU), Wired Sussex and the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE).Fuse Box & FuseBox 24

Following on from the findings of the Brighton Fuse report, Professor Gillian Youngs developed a new innovation curriculum at the CDIT incubator space Brighton Fusebox. This involved a new kind of knowledge exchange research connecting academic approaches to learning with entrepreneurial business strategies aimed at creating value and led by an AHRC-funded FuseBox Fellow. The FuseBox24 project examined in further detail the conditions necessary to accelerate innovation in the CDIT sector, a growing part of the UK economy. The project found that CDIT innovators: (i) trade in ideas and content, but tend not to worry about protecting IP, open innovation and collaborative approaches dominate; (ii) often as sole traders or micro-businesses need shared spaces in which to collaborate with others to develop ideas; (iii) need support, capability and new tools to enable them to get the most out of collaborations. FuseBox24 Final Report

Digital Catapult Centre Brighton

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Professor Youngs then led the successful bid for the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton project hosted in the FuseBox. The University of Brighton is one of two delivery partners, and responsible for accelerating University research impact in the local CDIT sector through collaborative research and development (R&D).

[i] Parsons, D. and T., Rhodri (2015). Evaluating the Economic Impact of Social Science, Leeds Beckett University.

Find out more about all Connected Futures initiatives.

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