University launches two new free online courses

The University is launching two new MOOCs focusing on enterprise and business innovation, one in partnership with M&S.


Starting a business: realise your vision, looks at enterprise and harnesses entrepreneurial expertise gleaned from successful start-ups.  The course will run from June 30 and will show participants how to turn an idea into a successful business opportunity.

Professor Nigel Lockett, Director of Enterprise at Leeds, is lead educator for Starting a business.  He said: “This course is for anyone who wants to set up a business or is at the early stage of starting a business.

“We use the experiences of our own student entrepreneurs and put participants in the hot seat.  The two-week course will give them the chance to experience real-life business dilemmas as faced by the entrepreneurs, who have all gone on to establish successful companies of their own.

“After working through the different options with our business advisers, participants have to vote on which decisions they would have taken when faced with the same situation, before our entrepreneurs reveal how they did it.”

The course will also examine subjects such as marketing and finance, and harnesses the expertise of business advisers, assisted by staff from Leeds University Business School, Leeds Enterprise Centre and its SPARK service for start-ups.

World-class innovation by Marks & Spencer is featured in the other course, Innovation: the key to business success.  Important developments in the fresh food supply chain and in machine-washable fabrics feature as M&S shares its knowledge of innovation as part of the course, the second of a two-part business series developed by the University and now open for registration.  The course  runs from September 15 and uses case studies from the University as well as M&S - with which it has a key partnership – illustrating how people are key to driving successful innovation in existing businesses.

Design expert Dan Trowsdale, who is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Leeds, is heading up the three-week Innovation course.  It aims to provide valuable professional development to people at various stages of their career.

He said: “This course is about the innovation process, not just the idea of invention, but taking a creative idea, commercialising it and also how simple ideas can have a huge impact on society.

“To illustrate successful innovation, we will draw upon case studies from Marks & Spencer.  Using material from the Company Archive based here on campus and interviews with Marks & Spencer employees, we will explore a number of their innovations.”

He added that examples of innovation from the University would show how cutting-edge research can lead to innovations that move businesses forward.

Alison Houston, Head of the M&S Company Archive, said: “This unique course brings together learnings from professional business and academia, illustrating how creative concepts are balanced with commercial thinking to forge business success.

“M&S has always had innovation at the heart of its business, right from our early beginnings in Leeds, and we are looking forward to collaborating with the University of Leeds to open this experience up to all.”

Both courses will run FutureLearn, the social learning platform, and are open to anyone with a computer, tablet or smartphone.  The courses feature videos, interactive quizzes and fora allowing participants to ask questions and interact with their peers.  Both courses will offer the opportunity for learners to buy a Statement of Participation on completion of the course.

Professor Neil Morris, Director of Digital Learning at the University of Leeds, said: “Both courses aim to stimulate and encourage further growth in innovation and entrepreneurialism in the business sector.  They illustrate how the University is working with successful individuals and companies to develop freely available educational materials for the benefit of all online learners.”

Both courses offer about four hours’ learning each week, which participants can do in their own time.

For more details, see Starting a Business and Innovation: The Key to Business Success, or visit the FutureLearn website.  

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