New figures compiled by Dealroom.co for the Digital Economy Council have highlighted the valuable assistance being provided by UK edtech startups during the Covid-19 crisis.
In the wake of the coronavirus lockdown, edtech companies across the UK are helping schools and teachers to keep classes running during the crisis.
More than 1,000 companies have been helping students to continue their studies, including Scottish-based firms such as Sumdog, which offers access to games to improve mathematics, spelling and grammar.
The UK’s education technology sector is one of the fastest-growing in Europe, according to Dealroom.co, and UK-based companies attracted £237 million in venture capital investment last year – a sharp increase on the £123.9 million invested in the previous year.
According to 2019 data from Tech Nation, investment in edtech climbed 91% from 2018 to 2019. Conversely, investment in this field in the United States actually fell by around 12% and European investment grew by only 8%.
Tech Nation chief executive, Gerard Grech, suggested that a lasting impact of the pandemic will be the acceleration of edtech adoption.
“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 with the education process,” he said.
While these figures underline the growing strength of the country’s edtech startup scene, many tend to be at an earlier stage in development compared to their US counterparts. Additionally, edtech companies have, on average, raised smaller sums of money than those in the fintech, healthtech or AI sectors.
- Remote working could become the norm for Facebook, Zuckerberg reveals
- Microsoft warns of huge phishing campaign using Excel
- New BBC platform to let users group-stream content online
The relatively small size of many companies also means they aren’t as well-equipped to deal with the sudden demand from parents and schools.
As families across the country continue to abide by lockdown rules, many are faced with the challenge of schooling children at home while carrying on with their own jobs.
The Department for Education has committed over £100 million to provide devices and access to the internet for vulnerable and disadvantaged children to ensure the continuation of their studies. Additionally, the UK Government has backed the Oak National Academy Initiative, which is helping to deliver curriculum-based video lessons and resources.
Caroline Dinenage, UK Government Minister for Digital, hailed the efforts of companies across the edtech sector and urged startups to continue supporting families throughout the UK.
“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 school, parents and pupils during this challenging time,” she said.
“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,” Dinenage added.