Ed-Tech Start-Ups Boom

By David Summers, CEO, Rockfig featured above with Rockfig’s Content Development Director, Catharine Slade.

The promise of a digital-first education system aiming to create efficiencies in school systems has driven venture capital money into the fast-growing category of ed-tech startups.

fyg The economic crisis of the past few years has resulted, on one hand, in the revision of current public expenditure on education but, on the other, in the definition of new strategies that build on the relationship between skill acquisition and entering the labour market. Unsurprisingly the 3-18 year old learning sector has been overrun by a wave of modernisation that has led to a growing interest in the application of new technologies for educational purposes.

The governmental point of view on the relationship between 3-18 year olds learning and technology is summarised in this statement from the European Commission:
Today, new technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to make learning more effective, inclusive and engaging. Digital technologies can improve effectiveness of resources through economies of scale, expanding access to a wider number of people (e.g. through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and other Open Educational Resources at lower costs or allowing teachers to focus on what they do best by automating or offloading more routine tasks. ICT can be used to foster more creative and innovative methods of learning (including personalised and collaborative learning), and it has the potential to facilitate collaboration, exchange and access to learning resources.” (SOURCE: Education and Training Monitor 2013).

Gamification tools and mobile devices play a major role as market drivers for the 3-18 year old learning sector. These Gamification tools are particularly appreciated by their teachers because of the mix of skills that can be empowered by ‘playing’ a single or social serious game. Many new and established companies are taking advantage of the opportunity to move into this expanding market which has an estimated growth rate of 37% CAGR by 2020.

It’s also important to note that education technology plays a strategic role in the move from print textbooks to e-books. Due to the increased price of textbooks, schools are quickly adopting different solutions. This means not only creating e-books (both paid-for and downloaded), but also providing easy access to e-books (renting without ownership).

A sharp rise in investment flowing into Primary and Secondary school educational technology and a flood of new startups entering the market have long-time players cheering the attention to what they call a previously undervalued sector.

There’s no question there is more money than ever flowing into the ed-tech sector. New York City-based investment research company CB Insights reported overall ed-tech investment hit a record high in the first quarter of 2013, with $559 million flowing into the sector via 103 investment deals. By comparison, the company reported total investments of less than $100 million in just under 60 deals in the first quarter of 2012.