Make Things Do Stuff, a recently launched campaign to foster interest in digital creativity among British teens, just got some major business endorsements. Virgin Media, now part of Liberty Global, coffee chain Caffè Nero and Microsoft have announced plans to help support the initiative.
Virgin Media and Caffè Nero, in partnership with digital skills company Freeformers, are working with the site to deliver a program of "TechJam Clubs" -- free, volunteer-led, weekly sessions where young people across Britain will tackle digital missions ranging from remixing videos to creating websites to building apps and more. The aim is to provide young learners with fun ways to develop practical digital skills.
[ For more on the U.K.'s new Make Things Do Stuff website, see Website Aims To Inspire Digital Makers. ]
Meanwhile, Microsoft U.K. has linked its kids' gamer programming project Kodu to Make Things Do Stuff, with plans to engage at least 30,000 British children in coding and game creation in the next 12 months.
"We want British people behind those success stories," said Microsoft's U.K. VP Michel van der Bel. "If the U.K. is to continue to remain economically competitive, it's essential that we get our young people excited about computer science from the earliest age possible."
He added, "We are seeing almost weekly how a good knowledge of coding can take a bedroom project into the realms of a multimillion download app overnight."
High-profile British business leader Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin multinational, agrees. "I believe the digital world is a force for good," he said, "and we can 'make things do stuff.'"
Speaking at the U.K. government's G8 Open for Growth event last week, Mozilla "digital maker" Paula Le Dieu added, "Ensuring that young people the world over have the digital confidence necessary to shine in their cultural lives, thrive in their economic lives and have a meaningful voice in their civic lives is at the heart of Mozilla's mission to create a generation of Web makers."
The Make Things Do Stuff program is a partnership between U.K. educational charity Nesta, IT charity Nominet Trust and open source maven Mozilla. Its mission is to "inspire a generation of digital makers." The free website offers activities and digital tutorials for young people to get involved in digital creation, from designing apps, animation and games to creating remixes and websites and more.