It’s widely acknowledged that businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors have been some of the hardest hit following the challenges of the pandemic and Brexit. 

West Sussex County Council has prioritised funding for small and medium-sized (no more than 249 employees) businesses to receive specific innovation support to recover and boost growth.

If you are…

  • a leader or senior manager in tourism or hospitality sector with responsibility to drive innovation in the business
  • determined to recover and grow following the challenges of Brexit and the pandemic
  • looking to create a new, or adapt an existing, service, product or business model
  • a small or medium-sized business based in West Sussex

then this completely free programme could be for you!

Developed in partnership with Experience West Sussex, this programme has been designed to provide you with sector specific insights and innovate tools to help you turn challenges into market advantages.    

This programme consists of bespoke masterclasses and workshops in the following areas:

+ New technologies for enhancing business operations and visitor experiences

+ Understanding your customer journey from ‘look to book

+ The value of data analytics 

+ Enhancing your customer offer

+ Sustainability and Net Zero support

+ Diversity and inclusivity to attract new staff and customers

Participants will problem solve challenges with peers through two additional, expert facilitated Action Learning Set sessions.

The programme culminates with an opportunity to further explore new business ideas and opportunities through a research and development project, working with subject experts from the university of Brighton or Sussex, to the value of up to £5000, at no cost to the business.

The Programme – Starting Autumn 2022

Innovation in the Tourism and Hospitality sector 

The programme is explained in more detail in our introductory webinar below, where businesses also hear from industry innovators and experts on how to attract new customers and enhance their experiences.

Recording from our pilot programme in Winter 2022

Recording from our pilot programme in Winter 2022

Attract more customers and staff – A path to innovation and growth through diversity and inclusivity

Delivered by Watch This Sp ce  

This masterclass will explore the business benefits to understanding, and appealing to a truly diverse audience in your customers, suppliers, partners and other stakeholders.

Looking at this both from within an organisation and the people you recruit and work with, and the many other business relationships you have, this masterclass will support you in understanding the links between diversity and inclusion, innovation and business growth. 

Understanding your customer experience and utilising data

Delivered by Dr Adam Jones and Dr Karina Rodriguez Echavarra

This masterclass will explore the experience from a customer or visitor perspective from look to book and beyond. It will help you to highlight areas for development and be an opportunity to understand how data can provide valuable insights to inform such developments.

Enhancing your customer offer: water, wellbeing and the great outdoors

Delivered by Dr Catherine Kelly

Once you have explored your customer experience and journey from the previous session, this masterclass will help you to consider new ideas and developments to your offer to existing and new customers. It will help you to maximise your unique selling points, new ideas and collaborations. 

This session will be most useful for those running hotels, campsites and other accommodation providers as well as those involved in organising tours and experiences, it addition to businesses located on or near the coast.

“Excellent and well worth the visit to this workshop. Food for thought for our offering and will look now at potentially partnering with local businesses offering well-being experiences.”

Huluki Sussex Stays

New technologies to enhance visitor experience

Delivered by Dr Karina Rodriguez Echavarra

This masterclass will explore what we really mean by the term immersive experience and how it relates across the tourism and hospitality industries. It will also look at how visual and sound technologies are adding new dimensions and sensorial layers that enhance visitor and customer experience.

“Very enjoyable event – had the opportunity to try an VR headset.”

Stephen Bell, Cycle Brighton

New technologies to enhance business operations

Delivered by Dr Rageshree Sinha

This masterclass will explore how some of the latest Internet of Things (IoT) and User Experience (UX) technologies are changing how visitors and customers interact, engage with, and use businesses in the sector through innovations that make the customer experience easier and more convenient.

Becoming a more sustainable business

Delivered by Dr Ryan Woodard

This masterclass will unpack the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and consider how these can improve your business operations, efficiency and enhance your brand. It will also explore the challenges and practical actions you can take towards embedding sustainability in your business, including managing waste and resources.

Managing Innovation Lift Off! 

This workshop will provide the opportunity to use the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) Innovation Canvas – a tool designed to help business create value from innovation, and identify the changes needed to make your idea succeed.

The canvas provides a framework for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a specific project, identifying the most urgent challenges to overcome, and prioritising what action to take. This will be valuable roadmap for any business with a potential access to expertise project.

Action Learning Sets

This programme will include two Action Learning Sets to support participants with the challenges and ideas arising from the sessions.

Action learning is a specific process where individuals get together with a facilitator to share business and organisational challenges and get the benefit of pooled advice and expertise from peers

To get the maximum value from this unique opportunity businesses will need to undertake a minimum of 12 hours of support – this could be made up of masterclasses, workshops, action learning and 1-2-1 support from our Innovation Advisors.

If you have any questions about the RISE project or the Horizon programme, you can get in touch with the team at

Access up to £5000 to support your project development

Through our funding we can directly pay for the time of our top academics in the areas of expertise you need to work directly on your projects. It’s a simply process that includes our Innovation Advisors working with you to scope your project and map the skills and expertise needed -with the unique opportunity of having access to two pools university experts to choose from.

Please note: The Access to Expertise part of this programme is only available for eligible SMEs based in West Sussex.  

How does the Horizon programme work?

Our Horizons programme is a series of inspiring, thematic and sector specific workshops, created to share cutting-edge research and insights to help develop innovative approaches that will enable you to build resilience to national and global challenges within your business.

  1. Call launched
  2. Attend an introductory webinar on the theme
  3. Complete 12 hours or more of our thematic workshops to gain deeper insight
  4. Book a free innovation audit or assessment with our advisors to explore your ideas
  5. Scope your project based on new knowledge and understanding
  6. Apply for Access to Expertise support
  7. Advisors source university expertise and develop the project brief
  8. Project undertaken, innovation activated

If you would like to know more about Horizons speak to our Innovation Advisors

Share event:

Programme Date:

Oct 31, 2022

Jan 31, 2023

Register Interest

Related Events