A project that will seek to grow an advanced creative economy and bring investment and skilled jobs to the region between Chichester and Brighton has been given funding.

Coast to Capital has approved an application for £97,700 from the Coastal West Sussex Partnership, in collaboration with Adur and Worthing Councils, Wired Sussex and the University of Chichester, for the Coastal Creative Technologies project.

The announcement comes amid a significant shortage of large-scale, high-quality film studio facilities in the UK, with demand far outstripping supply. The project will build the business case for developing a large-scale film studio complex with an integrated Centre for Research, Training and Innovation.

The project will also include a CreaTech (Creative Technologies) Open Innovation Network to support existing businesses, as well as a skills and training programme to ensure local people can take advantage of employment opportunities – ranging from animation to set building.

To meet its aims, the project will require around £100 million in investment. Its initial phase will include a detailed business plan to generate interest from investors.

Caroline Wood, Director of the Coastal West Sussex Partnership said: “This is an ambitious project that will put Coastal West Sussex on the global map for film production and creative technology, growing our creative sector into a strong identity for our region. It’s incredibly exciting to have received funding for the first stage.”

Professor Dave Cooper, Head of the Business School at the University of Chichester, said: “What we’re trying to do is bring together the whole creative technology industry. The pinnacle of the project is virtual production, which is increasingly being used for high end film and TV production but equally it involves e-sports or e-games design, music production, and any form of digital media. We want to raise the aspirations of local people to work in the creative sector and provide opportunities that will really grow our regional economy.”

Phil Jones, Managing Director at Wired Sussex, commented: “Wired Sussex is really proud to have helped pull this project together. We have long been a champion for the fusion of the creative industries with new digital technologies, sectors in which this region already punches well above its weight. A world-class virtual production and innovation facility can provide our creative and tech businesses with significant opportunities, and we want to ensure that they are supported to realise them.”

The UK’s creative industries contribute more than £115.9 billion to the economy annually[1] and employ more than 2.1 million people.[2] Official business register data suggests that in 2020 there were approximately 1,475 creative industry businesses in the Coastal West Sussex region, with an additional 2,985 in Brighton and Hove.[3]

It is estimated that the UK is missing out on nearly a billion pounds’ worth of production expenditure each year and that by 2026, 30,000 new high skilled creative/tech jobs will need to be filled.[4]

‘Green screen’ film studio example

[1] https://www.creativeindustriesfederation.com/statistics  

[2] DCMS, 2020b 

[3] National Statistics: UK Business Counts – local units by industry. Available at www.nomisweb.co.uk  

[4] Work undertaken by PWC in support of a proposal: Shepperton Studios 2018 application for planning permission. Similar figures available from Lambert Smith report in 2021 https://www.lsh.co.uk/explore/research-and-views/research/2021/july/film-studios-research-report-2021