By Dorothy Lepkowska, UCL EDUCATE
More than 200 entrepreneurs, investors and guests attended the second annual flagship UCL EDUCATE Demo Day on 29 November, as eight of the UK’s leading edtech companies pitched for a prize package worth more than half a million pounds.
The event included major announcements about the future of Europe’s leading research-led accelerator, including the launch of EDUCATE Digital, the world first online accelerator, and EDUCATE France, a new hub in Paris.
Professor Rose Luckin, UCL EDUCATE director, said the announcements “signalled the programme’s move into a global arena and its future intentions as an international centre of excellence for world-class edtech development” and that the French hub was expected to be “the first of many”.
The Demo Day included UCL EDUCATE’s third EdWards ceremony, during which 43 companies received EDUCATE’s own quality mark, either at Evidence-Aware or Evidence-Applied level. They were presented by Lord Jim Knight, former education minister and Deirdre Moloney, of United Airlines which, along with AWS and Santander Universities, was a major sponsor of the event.
The pitching companies, all successful former participants of the UCL EDUCATE programme, each gave a five-minute presentation before the audience was asked to vote online for a winner. Naturebytes eventually walked away with the top prize after a second ballot, when the first vote ended in a draw.
Professor Luckin described the continued work of UCL EDUCATE as “the power behind research-led edtech”.
However, she also cautioned about the ethical implications of edtech development, particularly in the use of AI. “Data is the new oil,” Professor Luckin said. “It has made a few people wealthy, and just like oil data is crude. Until it is analysed, it is worthless.” She said that its potential as a force for good was beyond question, but developers and users needed to be aware of the challenges.
Also pitching at Demo Day was Dr Alison Clark-Wilson, UCL EDUCATE’s principal research lead, who presented EDUCATE for Schools, the accelerator’s new tool for teachers to help them identify effective, evidence-led edtech to enhance teaching and learning.
The event was attended by a number of dignitaries and associates with whom UCL EDUCATE is collaborating and partnering in its future ventures, including Adriel Alvarez and Jean-Victor Abt from the Val d’Oise County Council and Alexis Francois from the Université de Cergy-Pontoise, who are leading EDUCATE France; Katie Herritage of AWS EdStart; Alban Remy, from London & Partners; Simon Poulter, from Santander; Saba Baxamoosa of GSV Labs, and Lord Tim Clement-Jones, who led a ‘fireside chat’ about the importance of research-led edtech.
Koby Yogaretnam, UCL EDUCATE’s business lead, said: “Demo Day is not only a celebration of the work of our accelerator and the success of the companies with which we work but a world-class showcase for the edtech industry generally.”
Photos are courtesy of UCL EDUCATE