The Education Technology (EdTech) sector is burgeoning. With a market estimated to achieve £129 billion by 2020 and new start-ups emerging on a weekly basis, it is rapidly disrupting traditional teaching methods and replacing them with technology-oriented learning.
What is EdTech?
EdTech is far more than just apps for schools. It includes a huge range of technology-based teaching tools that are used in schools, colleges, universities and professional bodies. If you are involved in education, you will be aware of many of them, and a quick search on the web will reveal hundreds of quality EdTech apps vying for your attention.
To illustrate the wide range of applications now available here are three diverse examples targeted at different educational sectors:
- Memrise is for anyone of any age interested in learning a new foreign language or honing up their existing linguistic skills. An award-winning learning app with over 2 million registered users, it includes over 200 courses and 20,000 native speaker videos. Memrise aims to make learning foreign languages fun and is clearly good at it.
- Touch Surgery is a professional learning tool designed to help surgeons learn new procedures and test their existing knowledge. Endorsed in the UK by BAPRAS and The Royal College of Surgeons, it includes step by step simulations of surgical procedures with leading-edge 3D graphics.
Other areas include tools to help teachers with day to day administration, setting and marking homework, subject orientated learning tools in the sciences and arts; in fact, there appears to be a tool for almost every aspect of learning.
Finding the gap
Although at first glance the EdTech market might appear saturated, there remain many gaps for imaginative innovators to explore. Also, education is always evolving as employers seek different skill sets and politicians seek to put their mark on how we educate and assess the latest cohort of schoolchildren.
While building better EdTech mousetraps might not necessarily excite venture capitalists, discovering new ways of saving teachers time and improving pupil outcomes, particularly pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, is far more likely to attract interest.
There are also many areas in the further education sector that can be explored, particularly as more universities and colleges expand their horizons by offering distant learning courses.
The UK leads the way
While the largest contributor to EdTech is the US, the UK is Europe’s leading innovator in the field attracting 34% of total European venture capital and angel investments. This is bolstered by the growing UK education market for technology currently amounting to £900 million a year just for UK schools.
Over 1,200 EdTech companies are based in the UK, and that number is growing at around 22% a year. Globally the market is expected to reach £129 billion by 2020.
The government sees the light
Damian Hinds, the education secretary, has recently provided a huge boost to the EdTech sector, calling on it to provide “an education revolution for schools, colleges, and universities.” He highlighted several key areas such as improved more inclusive teaching practices; more effective assessment; better delivery methods; administrative tools to ease teacher workloads; and lifelong learning for those who have left the education system.
Starting a new EdTech business
The route to establishing a successful EdTech business isn’t an easy one. Even if you have a groundbreaking EdTech application, getting it noticed and its development funded can be a difficult journey. Crowdfunding is always a possibility, and you can work with incubators and accelerators to attract venture capital. Remember. venture capitalists can offer more than funding; often they can help with branding, launching your product and marketing.
As a new start-up, you will need all the help you can get, including any available government grants and tax breaks. For instance, some of your development costs are likely to qualify for R&D tax credits which can be a valuable resource.
If you are a developer and/or an entrepreneur, the EdTech sector is rich with opportunities and one of the fastest growing markets in the economy. Just let us know if you would like any advice on R&D tax breaks.