28.01.2015

Investors and startups walk hand in hand into the future of educational technology

Investors and startups walk hand in hand into the future of educational technology

Image | Morten Oddvick

Education and technology are increasingly intertwined. In the beginning, there was talk of interactive whiteboards and computers for each student. Now, with the advent of smartphones, integrated management of schools and virtual courses, the opportunities for innovation in the area of educational technology or ‘EdTech’ are increasing. A recent report by the consultancy CB Insights shows this trend, and includes a list of companies who have shaped the growth of this sector in 2014.

Among the companies that have been the most successful we find Pluralsight, an online learning platform aimed at developers and experts in technology that has raised $135 million in funding. Tutor Group and Dude Solutions follow closely behind, both having raised $100 million in capital. The first site offers services ‘e-learning’ to teach English in Asia and Mandarin Chinese to professionals. The second provides various cloud-based management solutions for schools: from the automated control of all systems to the analysis of invoices in order to find strategies for saving money.

Investors and startups walk hand in hand into the future of educational technology

Image | Ibis Capital

As can be seen, the enormous progress made in this sector would not have been possible without investors, whose credit has enabled the growth of all of these startups. According to EdSurge, a virtual community that analyzes industry data, the total funding raised by EdTech companies in the United States has amounted to $136 billion dollars from 386 different investors.

CB Insights also emphasized the increase in the number of firms that have allocated venture capital to finance small companies that are dedicated to technology education. The list published by the consultancy shows the 500 Startups initiative as the most important in this regard, closely followed by NewSchools Venture Foundation, a nongovernmental association. EdSurge, for its part, highlights the Techstars accelerator.

Investors and startups walk hand in hand into the future of educational technology

Although we have been talking about US companies, Europe is also moving in the same direction (albeit more slowly). On this side of the Atlantic we have more students than in the US (100 million versus 80, according to IBIS Capital), and yet, in 2013 60% of the funding for companies in EdTech ended up in American hands: only 8% landed on European soil.

Despite the lopsided figures for the Old Continent, there are signs of hope. At the last EdTech Europe event last year, the organizers stressed the role of some influential European companies. These include Busuu, the largest social network for worldwide language learning; Bettermarks, a platform that offers math lessons with interactive virtual books; and TheStudentRoom, an online student community.

The event, now in its third year, brought together 300 industry stakeholders, including startups and investors. Edxus, one of the European companies that attended the event and delivered the opening speech, is dedicated to financially support emerging technology companies related to education.

There is also a place for public investment: the European Commission has its own program to bring together companies that provide capital to emerging companies in EdTech as part of its initiative to promote growth and development of startups in Europe.

The mSchools programme is a multi-faceted mEducation initiative by Mobile World Capital Barcelona, in collaboration with The Generalitat of Catalonia, Barcelona City Hall and GSMA.
Launched in 2013, mSchools supports students and teachers effectively integrating mobile technologies into the classroom. Mobile enables access to up-to-date materials, improves collaboration and strengthens learner engagement, opening up new ways of teaching and learning that improve achievement and employability.
The mSchools programme brings together private and public institutions to help students build important new skills and prepare them for today’s digital world.

Mobile World Capital presents a global vision that effectively integrates mobile technologies into the fabric of the industries transforming our lives. Committed to expanding the mobile experience throughout Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain with strong support of the public and private sector.

Mobile World Capital is leading mobile transformation through commitments in Competence Centres, local Industry Development, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation programmes.

MWCapital offers an open platform and exhibition showroom where citizens can understand and experience how mobile is enhancing our lives: The Mobile World Centre, located in the heart of Barcelona on Plaza Catalunya.

More information: