A leading executive from Microsoft came to Brighton to share ideas with college chiefs and people involved in the local creative, digital and information technology (CDIT) sector.
Hugh Milward, Microsoft UK’s director of corporate affairs, was the opening speaker at the Creative Tech Futures Brighton conference last week.
He spoke about how tech companies could collaborate to build the CDIT cluster in Brighton at the conference at City College Brighton and Hove in Pelham Street.
Mr Milward was followed by Tom Bewick, who chairs Brighton and Hove City Council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee.
Councillor Bewick addressed the challenge of creating a world-class centre of technical and vocational excellence as he set out a vision for Brighton and the wider city region.
He said: “We know from the work of economist Richard Florida that a creative city needs three vital ingredients: talent, tolerance and technology. Brighton has all three of these in spades.
“The city has an abundance of artistic and tech people. Many are freelance. And there are tech companies exporting fantastic digital products and services to the rest of the world.
“I believe the city can enter a new phase of its development, with a rejuvenated City College at the heart of a new tech campus for the city.
“The campus would act as an accelerator for public and private tech businesses as well as help the city meet its goal of doubling the size of the sector to £2 billion.”
Sussex County Cricket Club chief executive Zac Toumazi, who chairs the Brighton and Hove Employer Skills Task Force, sent a video message.
Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce president Carol Lewis spoke about the role of local business.
And Phil Jones, managing director of Wired Sussex, which represents and supports the digital sector, looked at how to harness best practice to meet the skills challenge.
City College chief executive Nick Juba spoke about building – or rebuilding – an institute of technology – and arts – for Brighton and Hove.
This week Mr Juba has sent a follow up email to those taking part in the conference with action points and next steps.
He said that he was keen to work with digital businesses like Microsoft and Cisco to help youngsters from Brighton and Hove find the best training and employment opportunities.
The growing cluster of CDIT businesses in Brighton and Hove is widely regarded as a largely unsung success story.
But the challenges include helping students to find the right training and the best jobs in a time of change.
Mr Juba said: “We must use the redevelopment of the City College estate as a bridge between education and industry and between the creative businesses of the North Laine and the tech and IT businesses of New England.
“We’re going to be doing a range of things on the basis of what you told us last week.
“We’re going to need your help and will be in touch over the next few weeks and months to get you involved in some of the activities.”
Among other things he said that he would review the courses offered by City College and start the process of developing new routes into the CDIT sector.