Tech City enhances UK-wide Digital Academy following application surge

Initial courses provided by Cambridge Judge Business School, UCL and Founder Centric.

The Shoreditch-based firm introduced the Digital Business Academy scheme in November 2014 to provide members of the public with the knowledge needed to start, run or join a digital company.

With such an appetite for the service, Tech City is bolstering content with material such as how to track early-stage startup performance, which takes the total number of courses to nine.

The first eight courses were offered by Cambridge Judge Business School, UCL and startup school Founder Centric, and included:

Size up your idea – UCL
Turn your idea into a digital business – UCL
Develop and manage a digital product – Founder Centric
Make a marketing plan – Cambridge Judge Business School
Build the brand – Cambridge Judge Business School
Understand digital marketing channels – Founder Centric
Run a digital marketing campaign – Founder Centric
Master finance for your business – Cambridge Judge Business School
Some 43 partners including BBC, WAYRA, Microsoft Ventures, Twitter and O2 are signed up to the scheme which has seen a course completion rate of 26 per cent, and Tech City is looking to secure more allegiances from other firms.

In terms of age, figures have shown that 48 per cent of users are under 30 and 39 per cent are over 35. Meanwhile, there’s a determination to become an entrepreneur among users as 56 per cent want to launch their own business.

Elsewhere, 23 per cent of users already have a business and want to grow it, while 21 per cent of users want to understand digital in order to secure a job. The latter finding follows a report that revealed the UK IT sector is now considered a more attractive place to work as a result of Silicon Roundabout developments.

Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech City UK , said: “Campus life and entrepreneurship are not mutually exclusive. Digital Business Academy represents a revolutionary shift in attitude in how we approach learning and accessing the right opportunities in a fast-moving industry.

From canvassing digital businesses in Tech City and across the UK, we recognise access to talent is an issue and we are tackling issue the head on.”

According to the Future of Digital Skills Needs in the UK Economy by O2 & Development Economics, the country will need 745,000 extra workers with digital skills to meet the rising demand from employers between 2013 and 2017.

Indeed, Virgin boss Richard Branson said in March, “our businesses will fall behind if students leave school without vital digital skills.”

Richard Dennys, head of the Digital Business Academy programme, believes the registration figures demonstrate that the UK is adopting a entrepreneurial culture.

“The course completion rates have been double the industry average and we are seeing a real appetite for access to tangible digital business skills across the UK,” he said.

“With the addition of extra course material from Founder Centric, I’m incredibly excited to see the next phase of DBA and the digital ventures our course participants will embark upon.”

Course completion provides users with digital badges and certificates, while partners provide access to rewards, paid internships, free training and guidance.