25 Mar 2022

New programme to help West Sussex tourism and hospitality bounce back



A new RISE Horizons programme aims to boost local tourism and hospitality businesses hit by the pandemic.

The West Sussex visitor economy shrank by 50% compared to 2019, with a loss of £1 billion of visitor spend since the pandemic struck in 2020. Our new RISE programme aims to boost local tourism and hospitality by supporting the development of innovation in this important business sector.

The Horizons: Innovation in Tourism and Hospitality programme – part of the Research, Innovation in Sussex Excellent (RISE) project led by the university of Brighton, in partnership with the University of Sussex and West Sussex County Council – kicks off with introductory webinars for local SMEs on 31 March and 5 April. 

The programme provides Sussex-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with fully subsidised access to expert university support, and includes an opportunity to work with an academic to develop or improve a specific product or service. Up to £5000 of support is available for each participant, with no cost to the business.

Photograph of the RISE team smiling!
RISE team (left to right):
Lorraine Bell, Mark Hadley, Zoe Webb

“We know that many local businesses in West Sussex were hit hard by the pandemic, with tourism, hospitality and the visitor economy particularly hard-hit. Working with West Sussex County Council, we’ve developed our Horizons programme to help small and medium-sized businesses to recover and grow, helping them to build understanding, confidence and skills and providing inspiration for businesses to get creative and innovative.”

Lorraine Bell, Head of RISE
The Experience West Sussex logo

Samantha Smithson, from Experience West Sussex, said: “Skills shortages and recruitment challenges remain a consistent challenge, [while] rising energy costs alongside the need for decarbonisation will also be putting pressure on SMEs. The RISE Horizons programme offers a unique opportunity for West Sussex tourism and hospitality business leaders to focus on innovation as a means to overcome some of the challenges ahead.

“By providing access to specialist university expertise, this programme can help transform operations and visitor experiences to promote business growth. It presents businesses with practical solutions to enable change in a truly innovative way. For anyone looking to future-proof their business growth, this is a great opportunity.”

Look out for details of Horizons: Innovation in Travel and Hospitality sessions on our Events section of the website.

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

Related Articles


29 Jun 2023

RISE - Impact Brochure



29 Jun 2023

RISE film