The UK edtech sector is thriving, with figures showing that edtech investment grew by 91% between 2018 and 2019.
Comparatively, US investment dropped by 12% in the same time period, while EU investment rose by just 8%.
With the coronavirus crisis forcing schools across the UK and the world to close their doors indefinitely, edtech companies that provide platforms and apps which enable home learning have seen a huge surge in demand. Consequently, research by Dealroom.co on behalf of the Digital Economy Council demonstrates that the UK edtech sector is one of the fastest growing in Europe, with UK companies winning 41% of all EU sector investment in 2019, and over 1,000 companies supplying products and services aimed at children and adults.
While UK edtech organisations are aplenty, they’re generally at an earlier stage of development than those in competing markets like the US. A number of companies have raised similar amounts of money than those in sectors such as AI, fintech and healthtech, but are less prepared to cope with the sudden growth in demand from parents and schools.
“With the global edtech sector seeing a 22% increase in investment in the first quarter of 2020, it is increasingly evident that coronavirus is accelerating the adoption of edtech, as both students and parents are looking for alternatives to continue the education process,” said Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech Nation.
“As the impact of the pandemic is felt across many business sectors, there is an opportunity for innovative solutions to help people find work, but also for education platforms which help people to acquire the skills they need throughout their life, including our own Tech Nation’s Digital Business Academy, which has seen record uptake in the last two months.”
While juggling homeschooling with working from home, parents have been relying on resources from edtech companies small and large; including Microsoft, Google, Amazon, the BBC, Pearson, Show My Homework, Lingumi and more.
With its ability to democratise education access, UK companies are in a good position to provide products and services for the global market. Figures from Dealroom.co reveal that UK edtech companies attracted £289m in venture capital investment last year – a significant growth from the £151m investment in 2018. Since 2014, the UK edtech sector has raised US$857m in venture funding.
At the start of 2020, global investment was already booming, driven by a number of considerable funding rounds such as Yuanfudao (US$1b Series G), Byju’s (US$200m Growth Equity), Unacademy (US$110m Series E).
With the Department for Education (DfE) pledging £100m to provide devices and internet access so vulnerable and disadvantaged children can continue their education throughout the lockdown, and the government backing e-learning initiatives such as The Oak National Academy, the period of school closures has seen the edtech sector truly come into its own.
Caroline Dinenage, minister of state for digital and culture, said: “Over the last six weeks the UK’s world-leading edtech sector has used its expertise to develop practical solutions and online learning tools for schools, parents and pupils during this challenging time. The work it is doing right now will pave the way for new technology to help shape the future of education in the UK and around the world. I thank the sector for all its efforts and urge it to keep it up.”