Tech startups hype themselves by saying they want to change the world or, more minimally, a (small) piece of it. They want to disrupt, revolutionize a sector, an area. Change old attitudes. For this reason, we can consider natural the fact that they started targeting the education field, too often anchored to aged schemes and processes.
Now, at least in terms of innovation attempts, something is changing, especially in the USA where - in the last two years - venture capitalists have been massively investing in edtech startups, which are trying to develop innovative solutions to support teachers, students and parents and to revolutionize the way they have operated to date. The trend is emerging resoundingly and in 2014 funds are continuing to pour through in order to create a sustainable ecosystem.
Edtech startups in the USA
Among recently funded edtech startups, have a look at some of them: - Smart Sparrow
provides educators of science, medicine and engineering with a platform to create learning experiences and to deploy them to students. Via an analytics dashboard, they can analyze learning and access to recommendations on how the content can be improved to achieve better learning outcomes. The company has just raised $10m in funding (read here
). - San Francisco, CA-based BrightBytes
provides an online data analytics platform for educators to gather ideas from experts worldwide and create evidence-based frameworks, which - combined with data from users' school or region - give them tools to understand and improve student learning outcomes. They just closed a closed a $15m Series B funding round (read here
). - Remind101
provides a platform for teachers to freely communicate with students and their parents updating them on information relating to the classroom and school activities via text or email. - Finally, AltSchool
, a network of micro-schools for children in grades K-8, takes a new approach, delivering Personalized Learning Plans, incorporating student interests and parental priorities to prepare each child with the skills he/she will need to succeed (they have just raised $33m
But not only venture capital. At an earlier phase, accelerators dedicated exclusively to nurturing edtech startups are increasing in number. As an example, co.lab
, Zynga.org's and NewSchools Venture Fund's accelerator, focuses on gaming startups. Its recently launched second cohort includes, among others, BrainQuake
, which delivers personalized, adaptive mobile math apps, Kid Bunch
, an e-toy studio creating digital adventures, toys and interactive stories for the family, Kiko Labs
, which creates training programs to help children develop critical skills like attention and reasoning, Timbuktu
, which creates mobile games that help children stay fit and healthy, and CourseMaster
, which provides an application platform for online/offline education. Based in San Francisco, the program provides startups with up to $50k, desk space and access to tools and mentorship from an advisor network.
Other edtech accelerators are NYC-based Kaplan Edtech Accelerator
and Socratic Labs
, Boston, MA-based LearnLaunchX
, Palo Alto, CA-based Imagine K12.
Edtech startups in Europe
What's happening in Europe? In the UK, two accelerators were recently launched in London: Edtech Incubator
and Emerge Education.
That's a start but not enough. Countries in the Old Continent are not still taking a long-term approach. Reversely, they lack behind without creating those conditions needed for entrepreneurs to develop solution to change the way education and learning is delivered. And this is not only a matter of tech equipment available at school: from how teachers work to deliver, monitor, and engage scholars, to how administrative and non-classroom workers operate, to how students learn and collaborate, to how parents are involved and communicate with, the entire education processes can be improved. And technology can support, banally!
LUISS ENLABS startups
Inside LUISS ENLABS, Codemotion
has developed an edtech project, Codemotion Kids, which aims to teach children basic coding by playing and having fun. Speaking of children, in addition, Le Cicogne
matches trusted demand and supply for baby-sitters, baby&teen-taxi and -tutors.