Partnering with universities to deliver employability in the digital economy for graduates and lifelong learners

Founders Omar de Silva, ack Hylands
Sector HE / Enterprise
Location UK
Impact Enabling employer university collaboration at scale

May 2019 Founding team assembles

Dec 2019 Impressive early validation with Australian universities

Jan 2020 Emerge leads pre-seed

March 2020 Multiple partnerships with UK universities

July 2020 First US university partner

What is it?

FourthRev connects universities and leading companies such as Salesforce, Tableux, Xero and AWS to develop industry-certified skillsets at scale.

Why we invested

The opportunity

Employer University collaboration (EUC) is a huge, growing market (£60bn+ by 2030). It’s driven by i) universities increasing their focus on employability outcomes, and ii) technology enabling EUC to be implemented at scale. Course co-creation is one key way employers and universities can collaborate, yet it currently exists on only a very small scale across a few institutions. FourthRev is well-positioned to support universities in realising this untapped potential.

The problem

One of the root causes behind the global skills crisis is the widening gap between higher education (HE) and industry. On the one hand, the world of work is changing at an unprecedented rate and 1.2 billion employees worldwide will be affected by automation technologies over the coming decade. On the other, universities are often moving slowly and many are struggling to adapt, making limited changes to the courses they offer. For example, it often takes more than 18 months to develop a new undergraduate course, and the typical refresh cycle for courses is close to 5 years.

The solution

By combining the unique strengths of universities and employers, there is significant potential for delivering up-to-date and industry-relevant education for learners across all demographics. FourthRev enables universities and leading software companies, such as Salesforce, Tableux and AWS, to co-design and deliver HE courses. These courses increase learner choice and offer pathways to acquiring in-demand skills and industry certificates, all while allowing students to earn credit toward a degree.

The founders

Co-founders Jack Hylands and Omar de Silva met at Ducere where they were responsible for setting up Ducere’s MBA business and Business BA degrees. Following that, Jack joined RMIT (Australia’s largest university) to head online product strategy, where he set up RMIT Future Skills – providing digital skills focused courses in partnership with industry. Seeing the power of EUC first-hand, he and Omar decided to partner up and create FourthRev to scale these types of offerings globally.

How we are helping FourthRev get to Series A?

World-class entrepreneurs

Like with all of our portfolio companies, our LP advisors, including Rob Cohen of 2U, have supported FourthRev in developing their go-to-market approach and through their network to potential partners and customers.

Education leaders

We have set up thought leadership groups on Employer-University Collaboration and University Revenue Diversification through which FourthRev has connected with executive leaders of more than 30 UK and US higher education institutions.

Tactical insights

We sit on FourthRev’s board, where we support the founders with insights on positioning, fundraising and hiring, connections to VCs and talent and crafting strategy.


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