Cambridge Spark Founder Raoul-Gabriel Urma: Educating Workforces in Data Science and AI

I founded Cambridge Spark back in 2016. Cambridge Spark is a global leader in transformational data science and AI training, career development and progression. Our pioneering, customer-focused training programs are built on its proprietary AI-powered platform, EDUKATE.AI. Our goal is to empower organisations to achieve their business goals by educating their entire workforce in data science and AI.

Cambridge Spark | Data Science Training for Professionals

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

There are two key forces that led me to start Cambridge Spark: coding and data.

First, I’ve always held a strong belief that coding should be central to anyone’s education in the modern age. I first started coding when I was just six years old, having a go at developing vintage websites in HTML and JavaScript. Being able to code is like the ability to read and write, it opens so many doors, can be applied to any industry and at any level.

Second, the demand for data science professionals has tripled over the last five years (+231%) according to a report by The Royal Society. However, thousands of job roles continue to go unfilled as organisations struggle to find the talent they need. Data Analysts, Data Scientists and Machine Learning Engineers are amongst those that are most sought after. Apprenticeships offer a well-defined route for upskilling people into new technical roles, including Data Analyst, Data Scientist and Machine Learning Engineer.

This is where I saw the potential for Cambridge Spark. Deploying AI within a business can help reduce operational costs, increase scalability, grow revenue and improve customer experience. There are many companies, across all industries who say they use AI, but in reality, their workforce simply does not have the Data Analysts, Data Scientists and Machine Learning Engineers to integrate AI into their business. Not only that, the wider workforce needs upskilling in data literacy to facilitate change management and identify opportunities to make the most out of adopting AI technologies in the business.

Without the upskilling in AI across all industries, there’s a real chance that the UK could fall behind. Learning coding and becoming data literate can be done at any age and at any level and should be embraced by all. There is a misconception when it comes to data though: the more you have, it doesn’t mean the more powerful the business. There’s a huge gap in the industry from translating exciting ideas into actual production systems leveraging AI. This is the gap Cambridge Spark seeks to fill.

What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

There are two principles I would encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to consider: passion and customer-focus. First, quite simply, follow your passion. You’re never too young to be bold and go for what you believe in! I’ve always been fascinated by coding. I’ve made a great career out of it, gained a PhD in Computer Science, written several books and regularly speak at international conferences and events about the topic I’m passionate about. Second, your success depends on your clients’ success. It is therefore important that you are absolutely dedicated to your clients and put their needs first, whilst having fun along the way.

What can we hope to see from Cambridge Spark in the future?

We look forward to continuing to support our clients and partners in becoming successful. We recently announced that we’ve inducted more than 100 professionals in our latest cohort to undertake apprenticeships in data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

We’re also working with Anglia Ruskin University to deliver more than 80 degree apprentices. Combined with the 50 apprentices Cambridge Spark is already training, this brings the total number of learners on degree-level programmes to over 200. This makes Cambridge Spark larger than many Computer Science departments at top UK universities and it is just the beginning.

We will continue to push forward and do what we do best: provide world-class training at scale to help our client’s workforce develop data literacy, data science and machine learning skills. These skills are vital to successfully support our client’s digital transformation.

The apprenticeship programmes we offer are more relevant than ever before as major changes to the workforce increase the number of people looking for avenues to reskill. Working with business we are able to provide apprentices with accelerated upskilling programmes, which is an increasingly attractive alternative to the traditional academic path.