When it comes to the edtech sector, there are definite positives to be drawn from the impact of COVID-19, with lockdown measures and subsequent school closures implemented in response to the crisis driving increased technology innovation, thus drawing significant venture capital (VC) investment from the US, according to the tax and advisory firm Black Rothenberg.
Simon Gleeson, a partner in the firm, commented: “The edtech sector in the UK is valued at £3.5bn, has more than 600 startups and is being noticed by US investors who have seen an opportunity to invest in a sector that is growing fast.
“The recent investment of US$44m in [the] UK’s WhiteHat, now rebranded as Multiverse, tops a strong 12 months where UK edtech grew by 72% vs 18% globally, and this continues to grow.”
The expert notes that the US$2bn acquisition of Utah-headquartered etech platform Instructure by Thoma Bravo in March last year emphasised the potential return on investment for edtech tools and solutions.
“We have seen a lot of commentary on remote working and the benefits this will bring to attract and retain talent, but what is equally as exciting is how many more of our future generations will have better access to education from apprenticeships to university accreditations at an affordable cost which, in the past, has been the main inhibitor” – Simon Gleeson, partner, Black Rothenberg
The closure of UK education campuses accelerated a digital transition that much of the sector had previously resisted. The shift to either partly or fully digital education offerings has ultimately altered perceptions towards learning technology, with teachers now embracing the platforms and services that have enabled remote classrooms throughout the continued disruption.
What’s more, says Gleeson, the pandemic has presented the sector with a “unique opportunity” to address long-standing issues surrounding inclusion and diversity, since digital education delivery can be both more accessible and affordable to the mass student population – depending on access to devices and internet, of course – and the expert believes many elements of digital education will remain when COVID restrictions are lifted.
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“We have seen a lot of commentary on remote working and the benefits this will bring to attract and retain talent,” he said, “but what is equally as exciting is how many more of our future generations will have better access to education from apprenticeships to university accreditations at an affordable cost which, in the past, has been the main inhibitor.
“UK tech is well-placed to act as a catalyst and key player globally. It won’t be long before the UK joins the US in creating the first UK edtech unicorn.”