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A free, so-called “pop-up” university has been launched in London which aims to deliver business education and practical academic guidance to the innovative media start-up companies of Tech City.
Unrulyversity, as it has been called, is a joint venture between City University London and the global social video advertising company, Unruly.
Academics from City University and its Cass Business School will deliver two-hour sessions once a week at Unruly’s offices in the Tech City area of London – an area to the east of the City that is now home to so many new media start-up companies that it is informally known as London’s Silicon Roundabout.
The sessions are open to anyone who registers but are aimed at people such as the Tech City start up individuals and will be on topics as diverse as designing an app, social media marketing and gaining funding.
“We are committed to taking an active part in the growth of Tech City and have much to offer,” says Paul Curran, City’s vice chancellor, at the launch on January 30.
Prof Curran explains that the scheme will benefit City University which has already placed interns from Cass Business School with Unruly and is hoping to forge more relationships with other start-ups in Tech City.
Tech City individuals stand to gain from having access to practical advice and training in how to bring their ideas to a wider audience. The sessions will also provide the opportunity for them to network with each other.
As an added incentive, Prof Curran says individuals who attend at least at least five sessions will be entitled to submit an application to the Cass Entrepreneurship Fund, a £10m venture capital fund established in 2010 and aimed at entrepreneurs from the Cass community.
Sarah Wood, co-founder and chief operating officer of Unruly says that Unruly’s tie up with academia has been invaluable.
“The links we’ve made with academia have helped us to grow as fast as we have,” she says. Unruly launched in 2006 and now has 11 offices in cities across Europe, the US and Australia.
Dr Caroline Wiertz, reader in marketing at Cass, thinks forming relationships with start-ups is crucial for a business school’s future.
“These start-ups are the future, they will grow into tomorrow’s big global companies,” she says, pointing out that when she first became involved with Unruly it had only a handful of people. Now the company employs over 150.
“My students can be a little too focused on going on to work in large organisations like investment banks or consulting firms, but we think the future is on the innovation side,” she adds.
She believes it is easier for academic teaching staff to forge relationships with small organisations which are often keen to speak to students and need interns.
Ms Wood lectures at Cambridge University and delivers guest lectures at the University of Westminster, University of Leeds and Cass Business School and says Unruly has taken interns from all four institutions which have led to permanent employment in many cases.