This article was originally posted on the Tech City UK website.

Free access to world-leading digital courses from UCL, Cambridge Judge Business School and Founder Centric for anyone aspiring to start, grow or join a digital business

Tech City UK in partnership with University College London (UCL) has today announced the launch of the Digital Business Academy, the world’s first government-supported online learning platform to provide digital and business skills for anyone aspiring to start, grow or join a digital business. The programme is open to all UK residents and requires no pre-qualification. 

The Digital Business Academy brings together world-class educational institutions and industry experts to give anyone in the UK free access to digital business skills.  Over 1,500 people have already signed up during the pre-registration phase to online courses from Cambridge University Judge Business School, University College London (UCL), and Founder Centric, a grass roots startup school that works with the likes of Seedcamp and Oxford University.  The programme is launched in beta and the platform is powered by UCL’s online learning platform UCLeXtend.

Every business today is digital and demand for a more digitally skilled workforce is ever more acute.  A recent report [1] suggests that Britain will need 745,000 additional workers with digital skills to meet the rising demand from employers between 2013 and 2017. Tech City UK has developed the Digital Business Academy as a direct response to this need. It is the first time a government-supported MOOC (massive open online course) has been created to give people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to excel in digital business. 

Over 35 industry partners including the BBC, O2 Think Big, Unruly, Ogilvy Labs and Microsoft Ventures have endorsed the programme. Our partners offer tangible opportunities to course participants in the form of paid internships, mentorship, specialist content, and free startup support such as access to loans and free co-working space.

Speaking about the launch of Digital Business Academy, Prime Minister David Cameron comments, “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 rollout 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.”

Baroness Joanna Shields, chair of Tech City UK and Digital Adviser to the Prime Minister, comments, “Tech City UK’s Digital Business Academy represents a new 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.  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”. 

UCL’s Vice-Provost (Enterprise & London), Professor Stephen Caddick, comments: “UCL has from the very start been a strong supporter of Tech City UK and we are delighted to be a partner in the Digital Business Academy. 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.”

Digital Business Academy courses include business development, marketing, branding and finance, and features videos, reading and hands-on practical exercises. Each course will take between 3-6 weeks to complete.

To register and conduct the online course, you can sign up here



About Tech City UK

We started life in 2010, with a mission to support the emerging Silicon Roundabout tech cluster in East London. Anchored in Shoreditch, we’ve grown into an organisation that delivers programmes focused on accelerating the growth of digital businesses, in London and cities across the UK, at all stages of their development. Examples include Future FiftyDigital Business Academy and the Internet of Things Launch Pad. A publicly funded organisation with a private sector mentality, we also provide a voice of advocacy for digital entrepreneurs. We feed back our findings to policymakers to influence change and we are dedicated to fostering the right conditions to start, grow and scale a digital business in the UK. We aim to make life better for digital entrepreneurs.

About Digital Business Academy

Digital Business Academy is an online destination offering free courses on all the business skills you need to start, run or join a digital business.

Cambridge Judge Business School, UCL and grassroots startup school Founder Centric are offering the following 8 courses, all online and accessible to anyone in the UK.  

·      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

Over 35 organisations including the BBC, O2 Think Big, Unruly, Ogilvy Labs and Microsoft Ventures are offering rewards and opportunities for participants including paid internships, free training, mentoring, and free start-up support.

Participants who complete the courses are awarded a digital badge and a digital certificate. As they finish more courses, they are able to apply for more of the rewards from programme partners.

Digital Business Academy Partners

 AMD, BBC, Circus Street, City University London, Codecademy, Collider, Creative England, Decoded, Dizzyjam, Dotforge, Enternships, Hackney Community College, Hootsuite, Islington Council, Launch22, Microsoft Ventures, Mumsnet, NACUE, New Entrepreneurs Foundation, O2 Think Big, Ogilvy Labs, Ravensbourne, Seedcamp, Smarta, Simply Do, theAudience, Twitter, Startup Institute, Startupbootcamp, UCL Advances, UK Youth, Unruly, WAYRA, Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise.

Quotes from Programme Partners 

Microsoft Ventures – Anand Krishnan, UK Country Lead & General Manager, App Platform

“Being part of one of the largest tech companies in the world, it’s easy to see that scale is something a lot of startups struggle with. The Digital Business Academy helps give founders the business skills they need to grow and we’re delighted to be part of it.”

Pauline Taylor MBE – Director of Youth Work, UK Youth

“We are increasingly coming across young people who are wanting to start their own businesses but lack the commercial skills and confidence to do so. The free access to both academic and practical content that the Digital Business Academy offers will be a game changer for the next generation of young entrepreneurs. We’re delighted to endorse it and encourage young people nationwide to participate.”

Sarah Wood – Unruly COO and Co-Founder Sarah Wood

“It’s very exciting. The skills shortage in the UK is so acute, the Digital Business Academy has the potential to turbo-boost the digital sector across the UK. It’s a practical, real world solution and, best of all, it’s open and free to everyone.”

[1] The Future of Digital Skills Needs in the UK Economy, O2 & Development Economics, 2014