Case Study: Digital Business Academy – Tech City UK

1) Description of initiative(s)
A national programme of online learning that gives people the commercial know-how to start, run or join a digital business. Course content provided by leading universities and more grass roots digital skills schools, covering a mix of entrepreneurship and digital skills relevant for all start-ups or scale-ups, and those who want to join these businesses. Topics will cover digital marketing, digital product development, how to create marketing plans, how to set up a business and how to raise finance.
Programme will be supported by a host of industry partners who will endorse it, drive registrations for it, or reward students of the programme with work experience/internships/training.
2) What need does this solve for scale-ups?
(1) Coordination, connectivity and promotion
DBA is a partner-led programme with content providers, platform provider, and a host of partners to endorse it and reward students who complete courses, giving them support to start their own digital business, or opportunities to join on.
(2) Access to Skills
Growing digital businesses lack talent with the right commercial skills for digital business; people with ideas for digital business lack the commercial know-how to start one; DBA addresses both of these issues.
(3) Leadership Capacity Building
Partnerships with organisations such as Smarta, Launchpadlabs, and accelerators will ensure that some students completing the programme would be able to access mentors for starting businesses.
(4) Customers (Domestic & Export)
Programme addresses lack of digital skills gap from the commercial aspect, and tries to upskill the workforce to help them join digital businesses, or start or grow their own.
(5) Financing
Partnerships with Start-Up loan providers (Smarta, Princes Trust) and with angel networks & accelerators will give some students the opportunity to apply for finance if they have a strong business plan.
(6) Infrustructure
Partnerships with LaunchpadLabs, Microsoft Ventures, etc, are in progress to give some of the students co-working space if they want to start a business and build a team.
3) Which stakeholders in the ecosystem are involved with running this?
Lead members among content providers are entrepreneurs themselves.
Ecosystem umbrella organisations
Tech City UK (Owner)
Government (national/ local)
Cabinet Office
Private sector
FounderCentric Twitter, Google, Amazon Web Services, Unruly Media, Ogilvy and many others
Smarta & Business Accelerators, including Microsoft Ventures, Wayra, Tech Stars, Level 39 and others.
Education providers
University of Cambridge
Example activities
Developing course content
Tech City UK develops and runs programme
BBC is a partner; providing supporting content;
Provides funding and support
Provides course content or supporting content, internships, free training to students completing courses, or start-up support
Start-up loans
Financing new business ideas
Provides course content; UCL provides platform
4) What does success look like? What impact/outcomes are expected?
  • 20,000 registrations within first year of launch and 1,000 course completions
  • Successful application for rewards by students who complete the programme – such as free training days at Decoded, work placements in start-ups, or start-up loans for the students who are ready to start their own digital businesses
  • Net Promoter Score showing satisfaction with courses.