SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Results of Brighton Fuse 2

New report finds freelancers in Creative, Digital and IT sector fuel prosperity and growth

freelancer resThe results of the Brighton Fuse 2 project provide the first empirical evidence that self-employment in the Creative Digital and IT sector fuels prosperity and success. Furthermore, the results indicate that freelancers enjoy good incomes, and are satisfied with their employment status.

In response to these results Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This study shows that the self-employed play a key role in driving the culture of innovation in the creative and digital industries and are a vital part of Britain’s economic growth.”

With a survey of over 300 freelancers, 32 interviews and two focus groups, the project revealed that freelancers earn a median income of £42,857 (FTE) and work an average of 38.2 hours per week. They have very high levels of innovation, and many of them are able to achieve a good international reputation outside the UK. Their wellbeing is in line with national averages, and the vast majority prefer to be self-employed (94%), rather than being an employee.

The results of the project were presented in a detailed report and at two events. The first took place in Brighton, in front of a large audience of freelancers, business directors, and practitioners. The second was a round table in London with policymakers and other stakeholders.

According to Dr Roberto Camerani, Co-Investigator on the project, and PI for Sussex University, “Freelancers achieve good results in terms of earnings and growth rates, showing, at the same time, a high level of wellbeing. Freelancing emerges as both a lifestyle and a working-style choice, a viable option to combine a successful professional career with other aspirations, such as the personal, familial, altruistic, or artistic.”

With creative industries accounting for a growing proportion of the UK economy, greater than construction, advanced manufacturing, and financial services, this research is significant in revealing the stability of self-employed individuals who are contributing to growth and innovation across a wide range of areas, the largest of which is online services.

Dr Monica Masucci, who worked as a Researcher in the project, said: "Freelancers in Brighton's Creative, Digital and IT cluster emerged as highly entrepreneurial individuals, actively promoting themselves, and constantly upgrading their skills. The vast majority of our respondents do not feel trapped into a second-class employment. Most of them chose to be freelancer to fulfil both personal and professional aspirations, and not out of necessity."

The initial Brighton Fuse research published in 2013 revealed the impressive economic contribution and growth of Creative, Digital and IT firms in Brighton & Hove, and the importance of combining creative and technical skills in their work. The new report supports this further, indicating that freelancers with more Creative-Digital ‘Fusion’ in their work achieve a higher income than the ‘unfused’ specialists.

This research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), was conducted by Jonathan Sapsed, and Megha Rajguru from the University of Brighton; Roberto Camerani (SPRU), Monica Masucci, and Mylene Petermann (Business and Management) from the University of Sussex; with Wired Sussex as a business partner.

For further information please visit:

Brighton Fuse website

Brighton Fuse Freelancer report

Brighton Fuse – Media Coverage

Brighton Fuse project - Impact