Top 20 edtech startups keen to address the sector’s biggest issues

Jisc and Emerge Education have re-launched the Step Up initiative, designed to match edtech startups with colleges and universities to address the most pressing challenges in education

Jisc and Emerge Education have re-launched Step Up – an innovation community dedicated to transforming higher and further education by matching edtech startups with colleges and universities in an attempt to help solve the sector’s biggest challenges.

In light of the announcement, a list of top recommended startups has been published, with selected institutions aiming to tackle five of the sector’s most pressing issues: digital learning, assessment, employability, wellbeing and recruitment. These challenges were initially identified in Jisc and Emerge Education’s series of 2020 reports, From Fixes to Foresights.

The Step Up programme is designed to support colleges and universities by allowing them to quickly and easily choose growing edtech startups that suit their budgets, will pass procurement processes, and will drive a culture of innate innovation.

“Our mission with Step Up is to sustain an innovation-driven community that will transform higher and further education with technology,” said Sue Attwell, head of edtech at Jisc. “The Step Up assessment process means that colleges and universities are able to easily filter, select and engage with startups that will be the best fit for them.

“Our ongoing research continues to identify the biggest challenges faced by UK institutions, and our vetted top 20 list of startups will be refreshed annually, to reflect sector needs. We look forward to supporting their work going forward.”

The top 20 Step Up startups include:

Aula: delivering engaging online classes

Bibliu: bringing textbooks to life

Blackbullion: helping universities to build students’ financial understanding

Enroly: simplifying and making post-acceptance administration secure

Examityonline proctoring

Fika: mainstreaming mental fitness

Fourth Revdriving employability in the digital community

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Handshake: powering university employability offices

Inkpath: lifelong skills and career development platform

Interfolio: making faculty-specific scholarly data instantly actionable

Morressierproviding virtual conference solutions

Note Taking Expressadvanced note-taking solutions

Open Campus: Drupal-based campus management solution

Peergrade: facilitating peer feedback sessions with students

Riipencloud-based ‘future of work’ experiential learning platform

Stucommproviding students with the right information, at the right time, via the right channel

Uni Buddy: helping students thrive through sharing their experience

Unituheling universities and student unions deliver faster improvements to the student experience

Virtual Internshipsa virtual internship programme that combines real work experience with comprehensive learning and training

Uniwise: helping universities deliver secure and accessible digital assessment

Nic Newman, partner at Emerge Education, commented: “The Emerge and Jisc higher education edtech advisory board, chaired by Mary Curnock Cook, identified that one of the biggest barriers for universities to adopt innovative startups is insufficient market information and the risk and cost of selection. Step Up was co-designed with the UK higher education sector to solve these problems for universities. It is clear from Jisc’s learning and teaching reimagined report that there has never been a greater desire for innovation, and we are excited to relaunch Step Up as one of the key tools to help achieve this.”


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