Speech at the launch of Entrepreneurial Spark in Brighton and Hove:
Good morning and welcome to Brighton and Hove, a city I am proud to lead and proud to call home, a city that is a place of innovation and imagination, somewhere pleasingly familiar and somewhere excitingly different.
We are an entrepreneurial city, in the top five of UK cities for business start ups, with two thousand new enterprises created each year. From independent boutiques in the Lanes to creative digital start ups in New England House, from cutting edge design to bespoke chocolatiers, this is a city where small business rules, with the vast majority of enterprises employing fewer than a dozen people. We are proud of our diverse and unique city, and that goes for our diverse and unique economy too.
It is that thriving economy that is at the heart of the Greater Brighton devolution bid submitted to Government last week, with the Brighton business brand reaching out beyond our borders across the coast and up into the National Park.
Yet we are a city of contrasts and challenges. One in three children live in poverty, our employment market is both enhanced and distorted by the number of graduates in the city, and far too many of our startups don’t reach maturity. The potential of too many of our young people goes unfulfilled. I have set a long term goal of ensuring that in areas like the one I represent in Whitehawk, one of the most deprived in the South east, we do not lose the next James Dyson or Jamie Oliver, Carrie Longton or Justine Roberts, Waheed Ali or Moni Varma.
It isn’t enough to lift people out of poverty, or to make our statistics on youth unemployment better. We must realize the potential of every young person, the ambitions of every teenager with an idea, the prospect of a new business that might deliver enormous rewards. And it isn’t just the young; today’s changing and flexible economy means everyone with the drive and imagination to strike out on their own needs the chance to bring their experience to new ventures, perhaps changing careers to reach for a long-held goal.
That is why I am delighted that the RBS Natwest has chosen Brighton and Hove for its latest hatchery, bringing the Entrepreneurial Spark to light that potential, realize those ambitions and make those business prospects a reality.
The venture launched here today will accelerate and enable talented and driven local entrepreneurs to succeed, as it has been proven to do in Scotland, with the support and challenge to help their business fly.
To all of you starting out in the hatchery, good luck. The council I lead will do everything it can to provide you with an environment in which you can flourish. To the RBS Natwest Group and KPMG, thank you for the opportunity you have given to these new entrepreneurs, to our vibrant economy, to our city by the sea. Like the i360 that now towers above it, you will help us reach new heights, see new horizons and stake a bold and ambitious claim on the future.