The centre is based on the Falmer campus of the University of Sussex and was one of only a handful of university-affiliated innovation centres in the UK when it opened in 1996.
To celebrate its ‘coming of age’ the centre hosted an open house party, giving guests the opportunity to get hands-on with some of the most interesting ideas its community of start-ups, scale-ups and academics had to offer.
The guest list was made up of investors, business leaders, and dignitaries from local government and academia, as well as members of the Sussex Innovation network from Croydon where the organisation opened its first sister site in 2015.
Guests for the evening could step in to the different offices, where Sussex Innovation members presented fun, interactive displays of products, technologies, games and platforms.
The centre was established to encourage more diversity in the local economy and to help retain more of the skilled graduates emerging from Brighton’s two universities which both invested in the project.
Funding from the city and county councils and several private partners – most notably Seeboard (now EDF Energy) – raised an initial £2.2 million to get it off the ground. It quickly became the go-to place for entrepreneurs and growing companies in the region. In 2008, Sussex Innovation became a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Sussex and subsequently has taken a more active role in helping to bring academic research into the commercial realm.
The mayor of Croydon, Toni Letts, was among the guests from Croydon council who met with entrepreneurs and discussed plans to support a business community spanning the Coast to Capital LEP region.