Tech City UK and UCL launch Digital Business Academy

Government backs online learning platform for anyone wanting to launch, grow or join a digital startup

Tech City UK has joined forces with University College London (UCL) to unveil the Digital Business Academy.

The online platform is available to all UK residents who want to start, grow or join a digital business, and has government backing.

The Digital Business Academy will include courses on business development, marketing, branding and finance, and features videos, reading and hands-on practical exercises. The courses will range between three and six weeks to complete and require no pre-qualifications to gain access.

Prime minister David Cameron, said: “Ensuring that our people and businesses have world-class digital skills – so they can compete in the economy of the future – is a key part of our long-term economic plan, to back business, create jobs and secure a brighter future for Britain. 

"We have put coding into the school curriculum and our roll-out of superfast broadband – backed by over £1bn government investment in our digital infrastructure – has now passed more than 1.5 million homes and businesses, and is reaching 40,000 more each week.

“Building on this, the Digital Business Academy will open up our great universities and provide the know-how to help hardworking people get on in life, reinforcing the UK’s position as a leading digital economy.”

During the pre-registration phase, over 1,000 people signed up to the online courses on offer from Cambridge University Judge Business School, University College London (UCL), and grass roots company Founder Centric.

UCL’s online learning platform UCLeXtend powers the platform, which was launched in beta.

Joanna Shields, chair of Tech City UK and Digital Adviser to the prime minister, said Tech City UK’s Digital Business Academy represents "a revolution in education, providing access to world-leading universities and great digital minds for free". 

"Whether you are a mother returning to the workplace or a new graduate full of ideas, securing top-notch digital and technical skills is essential," Shields said.  

“The Digital Business Academy will open up digital opportunities to people irrespective of age, background or pre-qualifications. For anyone who wants to learn, we provide the practical skills you need to start your own digital business or to thrive in any digital company.”

Over 35 industry partners have offered support, including the BBC, O2 Think Big, Unruly, Ogilvy Labs and Microsoft Ventures.

Partners are offering opportunities to course participants such as paid internships, mentorship and specialist content. In addition, free startup support – such as access to loans and free co-working space – will be available.

UCL’s vice-provost (Enterprise & London), Stephen Caddick, said: “We are committed to helping as many people as possible to acquire skills in business, digital technologies and entrepreneurship, so that they can start and grow the companies that will create jobs and drive the UK economy.”

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