After the success of last year’s Brighton Fuse survey we are undertaking a further piece of research, this time focusing on freelancers and their communities. We would like to ask you to help us get an accurate view of creative and digital freelancers. We are interested in what you do, what you need and how you work. Could we ask you to fill in this questionnaire?

It will take about 20 minutes to complete and will help us ensure that you are understood and supported effectively. We know that your time is valuable but by contributing to the survey you will help us get a clear idea of the needs and contributions of the sector, and raise the visibility of the entire cluster – we can’t do this without the information direct from you. As an added incentive you will also be in with a chance of winning an iPhone 6.
All information received will be anonymised and will only be used for this research project. You can find out more in this blog about the research written by the researchers.

For more information and to participate in the survey, please click here.

If you have any questions, you can visit www.brightonfuse.com, contact info@brightonfuse.com or rebecca@wiredsussex.com, or call us on 01273 692888

Many thanks in advance for contributing to this important and exciting project.

Are we living in a Freelance Economy?

Are we living in a Freelance Economy?

People are working in new and different ways in modern economies. We can see the rise of self-employed work in the UK and elsewhere, and especially with highly skilled professionals. But how big is this trend? And how do we understand what is happening?

Many people find it difficult to define the nature of their work using traditional categories. A large number of workers are not employees of big or small firms, or the public sector, but yet they work for them. They are neither employees nor employers. They call themselves different things, such as freelancers, contractors, consultants, independent professionals, commissioned artist, etc.

What they have in common is that they are highly skilled self-employed individuals who work for themselves but do not employ others.Many of them operate in some of the so-called creative and digital industries, working as journalists, designers, ICT specialists and consultants. However, their contribution is not limited to those industries, and it is much more pervasive throughout the economy.

According to a recent project funded by PCG (a) (Professional Contractors Group) and EFIP (European Forum of Independent Professionals),high skilled self-employed workers have been the fastest growing group in the EU labour market in the last decade. They increased by 45% in the EU over the period 2004-2013, and even faster in the UK (63%).

Some observers point out that periods of recessions are often associated with an increase in self-employed work, which is partially compensating for the people who actually lost their job due to the crisis. Others think that the economic crisis alone cannot explain such a prolonged growth of free spirits, and that the rise of independent professionals is revealing a more pervasive change in modern economies. Self-employment may not be just a legal status. It may reflect a distinct philosophy or workers, who are rejecting the traditional hierarchical structure of work, and adopting a more horizontal approach based on their skills and competences.

How can we know more about these self-employed workers, and especially those working in the creative and digital industries in the UK? The Labour Force Survey (LFS) (b) has a specific series of questions on self-employed work, and could provide some interesting statistics.

First of all, it shows that there arecurrently 1.7 million highly skilled professionals working in the UK. If we look at the creative and digital industries (as defined by the DCMS), we find that there are around 426,000 self-employed workers in one of these industries in the UK, representing one fourth of the total number of self-employed workers.

Some further preliminary analysis using the LFS show that on average, self-employed professionals in the creative industries are quite young, with an average age of 44, and that around two thirds of them are males. Around 27% of them are working in London (central, inner and outer), and 15.5% are working in the South East (including Brighton), which shows the largest concentration of self-employed workers in these industries after London.Their home is still the most important place of work; 38% of them work from home, 40% work in different places with their home as a base, and 22% work somewhere else.

Some people think that working as a freelancer or consultant could be a secondary job, or just an extra source of income for a considerable number of people. Our estimates on the LBF data seem to contradict this view. For over 95% of these people, their self-employed activity represents their main job.

Finally, they work hard, on average 44.44 hours per week, and many of them keep their skills updated over time. About 26% of them have engaged in some learning activities in the past 3 months.

These figures are publicly available, and much more could be potentially obtained from LBF and other official sources of data. However, despite this apparent abundance of data, the role of UK’s independent professionals is still largely understudied, and many questions about their work and life remain unanswered, such as:Why do they choose to work this way? How do they cope with uncertainty and risk? Do they contribute to economic growth? How does this type of work affect their wellbeing? Do they need help or support from the government?

With the Fuse 2 project we would like to shade some light on this virtually invisible category of workers.We need your help to collect robust evidence on what you do, how you work, your main strengths and challenges. Brighton & Hove’s Creative, Digital, and IT sectors offer an ideal context for this type of research and we believe that, as happened with the formerFuse project, Brighton couldbenefit a lot in terms of visibility and profile, and, at the same time, teach a lesson to the entire country.


(b)Source: Quarterly Labour Force Survey, October – December, 2013
(c)According to the method of analysis developed at Kingston University. http://bit.ly/1k6c1eK

What about the freelancers?

There can be few creative-digital professionals in Brighton and Hove that have not heard of the Brighton Fuse project. This research showed the first solid evidence of the astounding growth of the cluster, the importance of creative and design skills to this growth, and the resilience and innovation in the city’s firms. Everyone from Government ministers to the Financial Times to the World Economic Forum sat up and paid attention. But some voices rightfully asked “what about the freelance sector?” Continue reading

Join us at Brighton – The SuperFused City? on Tuesday 15th October to hear the findings from the Brighton Fuse Research Project

Brighton: The SuperFused City?
What the Brighton Fuse Research Project tells us about the future of business

Tuesday 15 October 2013
Doors open 6.00pm
Sallis Benney Theatre, Grand Parade,
University of Brighton

Sign up to attend here

We would like extend a special invitation for you to join us at Brighton: The SuperFused City? to discuss with us the implications of the Brighton Fuse research findings for Brighton & Hove and for the UK economy.

For the past two years, the Brighton Fuse team have been investigating how Brighton’s creative, digital & technology cluster functions.

The project has been funded by the AHRC and delivered by Wired Sussex, the Universities of Brighton and Sussex and the National Centre for Universities and Business.  With a large team of researchers collecting, collating and analysing data, stories and experiences, it is one of the most detailed analyses of any cluster ever undertaken in the UK.

At this special event on 15th October, we will be unveiling the results of this research, and sharing with you the individual, corporate and economic insights that it has generated.

We will discuss the value and challenges of creating a SuperFused economy, and how people, businesses and cities might benefit from our findings.

We believe that a new formula for success has emerged in the digital economy and for Brighton & Hove to truly benefit from the city’s new economic drivers, there needs to be radical changes to the way we understand and support the creation of value.

Please join us at Grand Parade to discuss the findings with us and with each other. We hope it will prove to be an interesting and exciting evening. Refreshments and snacks will be provided.

If you would like to attend the event, please register for a place here. 


Tuesday 15th October 2013

Doors open 6pm
Report and discussion 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Networking 8.30pm – 9.30pm

Sallis Benney Theatre, University of Brighton,
58 – 67 Grand Parade, Brighton, BN2 0JY

Knowledge Exchange Fellowship Vacancy

The AHRC in partnership with Wired Sussex is looking to recruit a Knowledge Exchange Fellow to be based at The FuseBox, an exciting new business support initiative in Brighton.

Developed from the Brighton Fuse project this is a unique opportunity for a suitably qualified researcher to become a fully embedded Researcher-in-Residence to help shape and deliver new models of business support and new approaches to co-creation, innovation and growth for the creative, digital and IT (CDIT) sector and to develop new methodologies of knowledge exchange between arts and humanities research and business.

This Fellowship will be funded by the AHRC while the Fellow remains employed by his/her institution. Mentoring support will be provided by the University of Brighton.

1 year full-time. Start date October 2013

Full details of the role and its requirements, including background information, can be found on the AHRC website – http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/Funding-Opportunities/Pages/Knowledge-Exchange-Fellowship-FuseBox-Wired-Sussex.aspx


The Brighton/Cherokee Nation Digital Cultural Exchange Project

Brighton Fuse isn’t just concerned with mapping the size, shape and flavour of the Creative, Digital and IT sector. It’s also looking to the future. The Brighton/Cherokee Nation Digital Cultural Exchange is part of an experimental strand of the research that investigates the development of communication, collaboration and co-creation skills driven by digital technologies.

The Brighton/Cherokee Nation Digital Cultural Exchange project is an ambitious experiment in using digital media to drive a cultural exchange project. Two secondary schools in Brighton and Hove and three schools in the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, are getting to know each other through the use of digital technologies to communicate, collaborate and co-create. This video shows the Brighton launch event where 40+ year 8 children mashed up their interpretations of their cultures with help from artists SDNA.

Brighton Fuse Cherokee Nation event image

Brighton Fuse Cherokee Nation event image

BLOG: A quick tour to completing the Brighton Fuse Survey

Some of you busy creative and digital entrepreneurs have asked us what data are needed to complete the Brighton Fuse Survey.

Very understandably, you want to be prepared for the questions before getting started with it. We thought that instead of sending the whole questionnaire, we’d write a quick tour of the survey, letting you know what sorts of things we are asking, and also warning you about the few times when you may need to access other data beyond what’s stored in your powerful brains.

Continue reading

BLOG: Making Brighton Fuse social


This is a guest post written by Ross Breadmore, consultant with NixonMcInnes. NixonMcInnes are a Brighton based social business consultancy.

As I’ve stated a million times before, I love Brighton. I love working in Brighton. And I love working for a company that loves Brighton. Love love love. Brighton Brighton Brighton.

So it was ace to be asked to help with Brighton Fuse, a two-year social research and development project “which will map, measure and assist Brighton’s creative, digital and IT cluster”. It involves a core team of researchers, academics and analysts, various bodies and delivery partners including our friends at Wired Sussex. Continue reading

BLOG: The Brighton Fuse: Getting started

Hello, and welcome to the Brighton Fuse!

The Brighton Fuse is an extremely large government-funded research project being carried out by Brighton University, Sussex University, the Confederation for Industry and Higher Education, and Wired Sussex. We plan to create the most accurate picture of the Brighton cluster of digital and creative firms ever. Like you, we know that this is a super-interesting topic and our advisory board, which includes representatives from the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky, agree with us.

The aim of the project is to explore one simple question: Does bringing together creativity with digital technologies lead to innovation and economic growth?

Why would we expect this to be the case?  Continue reading