Tech entrepreneur David Richards looking to boost number of software developers

Technology entrepreneur David Richards is launching a new Yorkshire venture called EyUp to create software developers, generate jobs and invest in start-ups across the North of England.

David Richards said: “Education should be the foundation of regeneration and EyUp will help individuals realise their potential and spread success across our communities."

EyUp will offer opportunities to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or who are under-represented in the tech sector and will launch innovative partnerships with third sector organisations.

Mr Richards, founder and CEO of Sheffield-based WANdisco, said: “Local and global economies are crying out for people with the right skills – latest annual figures show more than 150,000 digital tech job openings in Yorkshire and 4,400 in Sheffield.

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“EyUp will teach people to code, help them find jobs as developers, nurture new start-ups and contribute to social and economic wellbeing.”

The Yorkshire venture will have three strands to it. EyUp Skills will run a 16-week full-time course in partnership with the coding bootcamp iO Academy.

EyUp Jobs will help course graduates to find their ideal roles and provide assurance to employers that candidates have reached the right level of competency.

EyUp Ventures will provide start-up capital, investment knowledge and operating experience to new companies in Northern England.

Mr Richards said: “Education should be the foundation of regeneration and EyUp will help individuals realise their potential and spread success across our communities.

“We want to provide a meaningful alternative to university by offering more hands-on experience in four months than students would typically get in a three-year degree programme.

“As a Yorkshireman who has spent more than two decades living and working in Silicon Valley, I am very proud of my roots and want to celebrate our Yorkshire identity with EyUp.”

EyUp Skills will launch in Sheffield this September. It will deliver an immersive course run in partnership with the iO Academy to train students aged 18 and above in the most in-demand technologies and methodologies used in software development.

James Muir, chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Investment in the skills and careers of our people is at the forefront of South Yorkshire’s renewal and growth in the coming years, so I’m incredibly pleased to see the launch of EyUp in Sheffield.

“To ensure our region has the opportunities needed to build a stronger, greener and fairer economy for everyone, we need to invest in our people and businesses, and improving digital skills is integral to this.

“The guidance and expertise EyUp will offer to graduates and businesses is very welcomed and it’s great to see the team’s enthusiasm and commitment to South Yorkshire.”

iO Academy was founded in the South West in 2015. It was conceived as a way to help connect career-changers with tech companies. The course is designed as a fast-track bridge into tech, teaching students everything they need to become coders.

Learning from professional developers with real-life experience, the students gain practical knowledge in an environment as close to a real tech team as possible. Chris May, founder of iO Academy, said: “As owner of a tech company myself, I know from experience the challenges companies face in finding new talent. We started iO Academy as a solution to this problem.

“By drawing on the expertise of our own tech team we came up with a practical course that, six years later, has proven that it really works in getting complete newcomers to be industry-ready in a short timeframe.”

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Home-classroom hybrid learning

EyUp Skills will offer a hybrid of home and classroom-based learning at Castle House, the Sheffield offices of data software company WANdisco.

Applicants will be assessed on potential rather than past experience as part of the application process.

Course fees can be paid up front or with an interest-free deferred payment arranged through EdAid.

Chris May, founder of iO Academy, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with EyUp to move into Sheffield as our second UK location, and to share our successful model with people of all backgrounds who want to build careers in this exciting sector.”