The ‘all stars’ of European edtech

Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet, Co-Founder of EdTech Europe highlights three industry megatrends at SXSWedu

While in Austin a few weeks ago, I presented a selection of inventive European EdTech startups to delegates at SXSWedu, the US’ most innovative and energetic education sector event. 

We showcased 10 disruptive startups during our European All Stars Morning Mixer event, whereby company founders and executives presented a first-hand view into the European EdTech industry and depicted a range of trends in the rapidly growing global EdTech marketplace. 

The startups travelled from the UK, France, Germany and Demark and highlighted the vast amount of talent and creative ideas infused throughout European EdTech companies.

Three of the SXSWedu featured startups, BridgeU, Primo, and Babbel represent a sample of ‘European All Stars’ and embody the following megatrends that will continue to influence the evolution of education technologies worldwide.  

EdTech Megatrend #1: Globalisation of higher education and increased competition to attract international students
Featured European All Star: BridgeU 

The fierce competition within the $90 billion global higher education industry only continues to intensify with rapidly growing regions like Asia encouraging millions of students to apply to prestigious universities. As even more international students strive to be accepted into elite higher education institutions, differentiating candidates as being the best becomes a higher priority.

Adaptive higher education startup BridgeU was founded to address this challenge by providing students with online tools that facilitate university matching, research, essay writing, strategy/brand building and more. Through their technically comprehensive platform, BridgeU helps students stand out from other applicants by sharing compelling personal narratives and highlighting qualities that are consistently perceived positively by admissions officers, like teamwork, leadership experience, and community service. 

Innovative EdTech startups like BridgeU employ personalisation technologies and expert advisors to facilitate student success within the increasingly competitive global higher education admissions process.

EdTech Megatrend #2: Coding & Programming: Building Blocks of Learning Essential 21st Century Skills
Featured European All Star: Primo

Considering that 60% of the jobs in 10 years have yet to be invented, educating kids about 21st century skills, such as programming, coding and robotics, becomes increasingly imperative.

As a result, schools all over the world have integrated 21st century focused educational programmes into their curricula. Outside the classroom, parents have encouraged children of all ages to engage with EdTech innovations that help instill this necessary knowledge.

There are countless hands-on startups teaching 21st century skills, but one London-based company, called Primo, adopted a slightly different approach from the others; using their smart toys to help children learn how to code at a young age. 

Primo began as a Kickstarter campaign recognizing that there is a latent interest in coding and technology, but many current teaching methods are inaccessible and complex. The Primo team designed an adorable robot called Cubetto that helps children learn the basics of coding and be creative with the technologies that surround us.

Teaching 21st century skills continues to be prioritized in and out of the classroom and inventive, fun educational tools will help children of all master this type of technology focused learning.

EdTech Megatrend #3: Widespread Mobile Learning and Rapid Global Distribution
Featured European All Star: Babbel

Mobile phones and tablets are ubiquitous; now having surpassed the number of PCs, with the majority (56%) of the world’s population owning a mobile subscription by 2020. With this shift in devices, more people have mobile phones and connection to the Internet than access to education.

When a product thrives by leveraging a mobile platform, the company can achieve global distribution extremely quickly with surprisingly little investment. As seen in the success story of Instagram, whereby their team designed a tremendously popular photo sharing service, yet only had 14 employees and no investment before they were purchased by Facebook for $1 billion.

Apply successful mobile growth and widespread distribution to a universal educational need, such as language learning, and you have the recipe for a global company with high growth potential. Babbel, a German based startup with 15 million users, is a prime example of achieving accelerated growth by effectively capitalizing on mobile access and international distribution methods to deliver their product to worldwide users. 

Foreign language learning software is a principal illustration of how mobile learning platforms can be rapidly distributed to new markets because these education technology tools are often designed with portability and universality in mind.

Technology is altering the education industry to become an increasingly global market place as it previously did for other content businesses, such as music, publishing, television and gaming.

As demonstrated by innovative startups using technology to their advantage, there is significant entrepreneurial activity and talent in the European EdTech industry. However, there is currently not enough capital to back these ventures, with only 7% of all global EdTech fundraisings occurring in Europe.

In order to facilitate success and encourage European EdTech companies to remain competitive within the wider education marketplace, public and private investors need to foster connecting the global EdTech community by supporting the ‘All Stars’ of European EdTech.