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7 November, 2013 - 10:51 By Tony Quested

Coding on school curriculum from next year, Osborne reveals

George Osborne and Sherry Coutu

Computer coding is being added to the UK school curriculum from next year, Chancellor George Osborne announced to existing and budding entrepreneurs from Cambridge and other British technology centres at Downing Street last night.

Praising the winner of the recent Cambridge University hackathon as one of his two favourite UK apps, the Chancellor said the talent gathered at last night’s summit showed why coding had to be stitched into the fabric of the education process.

“A lot of young people will be familiar with Word or Excel but we want them to know how these work and what makes them tick. So from next year we’re proud to announce that coding goes onto the school curriculum for the first time in this country,” he said.

The Chancellor was addressing a large delegation as part of Sherry Coutu’s Silicon Valley Comes 2 the UK (SVC2UK) initiative, which he said had grown stronger in what is now its seventh year. The reception was designed to illustrate the role of UK universities in entrepreneurship and technology transfer.

Leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs – arguably the strongest delegation to make the California-Cambridge pilgrimage in this initiative – joined Cambridge contemporaries such as Mike Lynch, David Cleevely, Hermann Hauser, Tony Raven and ‘appathon’ and hackathon winners from around the UK. Young entrepreneurs from Cambridge and other UK universities were to the fore.

Notable among them was the team who won the recent Cambridge hackathon – Getaways – which the Chancellor loved. Getaways is designed to help users escape from a hectic lifestyle. “That’s something I can identify with,” he said.

Based on the user’s choices, the venture uses open data about the world to pick an ideal place to adventure to, for an hour, an afternoon, or a weekend! Getaways says it will use its large database to produce actionable insight and return a single location - your own personalised getaway spot.

Dr Hauser told me at the event that he thought the calibre of propositions emerging from Cambridge University was growing ever stronger and felt the city was on the verge of a new technology boom.

And Sherry Coutu said the Government’s engagement with the entrepreneur community at different levels was vital to the strategy of harnessing technology and entrepreneurship for the good of the economy – and humanity.

She praised the Government for allowing students to use its data – “well I guess it’s really our data,” she swiftly added – for the appathons.

“Your engagement is vital to encourage the new wave of digital entrepreneurs,” she said, “and we thank you for it.”

She also believed that apps and the digital age generally had given many more young entrepreneurs the opportunity to build their own businesses without getting tangled up in the red tape that so often went with setting a physical new company.

The process had created more digital entrepreneurs, many of whom would become the established technology pioneers and investors of the future, she said.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: George Osborne and Sherry Coutu

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