Edtech investments in 2018 reach a staggering $16.3bn

Edtech such as AI and game-based learning top funding charts, with China and US battling it out for market dominance

Research from Metaari, entitled ‘The 2018 Global Learning Technology Investment Patterns: The Rise of the Edtech Unicorns’, has this month revealed that Chinese edtech companies were the majority recipients of global edtech investment in 2018, snapping up 44.1% of the total $16.34bn. This was the first year that the US did not dominate the market, taking just 32% of all global funding.

There were 1,087 edtech companies across the world in 2018 who obtained funding, up from 813 in 2017. However, just 67 companies shared the majority of investment, garnering over $50m each, and raising a combined total of $9.4bn. There were also 12 companies that raised over $200m, 11 of which are based in China. The largest of these individual investments went to China’s Zuoyebang, whoch raised $850m over two rounds in 2018.

Sam S. Adkins, Metaari’s chief researcher, commented: “Investors are now clearly attracted to next-generation learning technologies.” AI is a particularly well-funded area, with “a combined total of $2.9bn going to 197 companies developing AI-based learning products,” confirmed Adkins. “This was the highest investment total (by a wide margin) out of the ten learning technology product types analysed in the whitepaper,” he added.

The AI sector is one in which the US still has an advantage over China, with the latter attracting only 10.3% of all global investment in AI-based learning tech. 61.5% of investments went to 102 US-based companies, totalling $1.78bn, and India and Israel were the second and third most invested in, obtaining $227.7m and $169.5m respectively.

Game-based learning companies also saw a large increase in investment in 2018, with a total of $2.25bn going to 133 edugame companies, more than double the amount invested in 2017. 74 mobile learning companies received over $1.96bn in funding, with four Chinese ‘homework helper’ (zuoye) companies receiving the majority. This is compared to the $568.3m invested in mobile learning in 2017.