Over the last few years, we have experienced some major changes: technological devices and apps have become a regular part of our lifestyles. And yet, these tech changes haven’t had such a significant influence on our educational institutions, curriculums, and processes of learning & teaching.
Yes, education has been through some transformations over the past century — both good and bad. And in the last couple of years, the growth of EdTech in Europe has been recognised as a critical development towards a better future. But as in any other industry sector, companies need resources, guidance and other means to survive & thrive.
We know there is no shortage of talent out there, but in many cases, brilliant minds with life-changing ideas lack the proper support needed to bring their dreams to life. That is where we come in.— Haakon Brunell, CEO & Managing Partner at Katapult Accelerator
Exactly! That’s where highly-focused incubators and accelerators come in. They assist startups with:
- gaining access to funding opportunities, venture capital, & angel investors
- bringing startups and teachers/institutions together, enabling co-creation
- mentoring and guiding a company to build sustainable products
- granting access to knowledge, research and networking events
- providing entrepreneurs with legal, IT and financial services
- working and testing with end users (students & teachers)
Therefore, it’s vital for Europe to have more of them available for the development of reliable and effective products. Luckily, a few out there are already helping, galvanising, and having an impact in the EdTech industry.
This is what Jimmy Koay & Michael Chian, Co-Founders of BeED have to say about xEdu’s Acceleration program:
It has not only opened up our minds but has given us numerous opportunities to collaborate with experts from both the startup and education sectors. We valued the co-creation process & feedback from schools, as it has revalidated our business model & given us greater insight into how to further improve our product. Also, the certification & endorsement that we have received from education experts has proven that our product is pedagogically sound.
Here’s a map followed by a list of the accelerators and incubators focused on EdTech in Europe:
Please note that I didn’t mention many other organisations who have also taken educational startups under their wing because it’s not their main “specialty”.
An Accelerator supports established startups and accelerates their growth with an idea & business model in place. These programs are profit-driven — there’s a provision of pre-seed investment in exchange for equity - they focus on teams, not individuals, the startups are supported in groups or “classes”, and there’s usually a limited time frame comprising events, mentoring & seed capital.
Accelerators are open to the public, but are highly competitive and have a focus on startups that show growth potential. Generally, at the end of the program, companies pitch their ideas at a “demo day” in front of angel investors, VCs, and other interested parties.
1. Katapult Accelerator, Norway
Based in Oslo, Katapult offers an intense 3-month program. The acceleration program is for startups that have a focus on environmental and societal areas, and that are open to or already implement new technologies such as AI, Blockchain, IoT and VR/AR.
The Accelerator also gives participants access to leading mentors and experts in specific domains and supports the company by investing in it & enabling further investment and funding.
We work with impact-driven, exceptional founders who share our mission of ‘building the world you want to live in’. We’ve created the ultimate platform for people who want to make a positive impact in the education tech scene by giving them access to proper mentorship and deep access to industry experts and investors who will help them succeed and scale. We have been supporting ed-tech companies in each of our Katapult batches, and aim to continue being a go-to accelerator within the EdTech space.
2. xEdu, Finland
They offer early-stage startups, a 4-month intense program twice per year and they are part of the GAN community (that means a lot of perks!). Based in Helsinki, the alumni can take advantage of the country’s exceptional educational system, tech/gaming scene, and a global network of innovators, educators, entrepreneurs, and investors.
We’ve been renewing the culture of cooperation between startups, corporations & the public sector in the education sector. Together with our main partners Samsung, Telia, the cities of Helsinki and Espoo, & other ecosystem actors we’ll continue creating a greater social impact by empowering the entrepreneurs who innovate in the field of education.
3. Emerge Education, United Kingdom
They offer a 3-month program for startups at all development stages. Based in London and with an open application all year long. EE has some of the most prominent partners, such as Learn Capital & Rethink Education, educational institutions like Oxford University & Eton College, and industry leaders including Jamie Brooker, founder of Kahoot!.
EE resembles an incubator too, as they get their money from UK university endowment funds and function as a validator of new technologies and ideas to the universities.
On the plans of Emerge Education, Lucy Lynn-Matern, Venture Hunter, says:
We will continue to support businesses through capital, network, and expertise. We will make roughly one investment a month, as well as supporting impact-focused & later-stage companies as they enter the UK education system.
A business incubator is interested in early-stage companies or early-stage ideas. Their role is to help companies establish themselves and survive by decreasing their risk by offering them consulting services, assisting them with resources, assets, services, and contacts.
Additionally, it can be where the idea is developed leading to an external team running it and developing it further. The program usually does not have a defined timeline, they are focused on the idea’s endurance and not how quickly it will grow.
1. Open Education Challenge, Spain:
OEC offers startups a 3.5 month incubation program based in Barcelona. The selected startups then immerse themselves in developing their solution further in four European cities: Helsinki, Paris, Berlin, and London.
OEC has also organized the Global Edtech Startup Awards in cooperation with Mindcet, and have partnered with Aalto University, iversity, and many other educational and startup advisors, mentors, and investors.
2. Founders Factory, UK
Based in London, Founder Factory supports startups across 6 different sectors, and education is one of them. They have built a network and team of digital & business experts and partnered up with major corporations like Holtzbrinck Macmillan.
During the program, participants and corporate backers identify problems in the education sector, build and test prototypes, validate the idea, and then form a founding team for the startup. FF also offers a 6-month Accelerator program.
Founders Factory, with the backing of Holtzbrinck, is committed to building & scaling successful EdTech startups. We’re looking to affect change inside & outside the classrooms. We see the positive impacts tech is having on educational attainment too. Whether it supports teachers using data like Eedi & Teacher Gaming, improves educational outcomes like Lightneer, supplies teachers with resources like Airsupply, or improves professional learning via gamified learning like Smartupio. Edtech is reportedly growing 17% a year, so this is just the beginning for the sector.
3. Edtech Southeast, Sweden
Their Incubation program is for startups who want to enter & establish themselves in Sweden. Edtech Southeast is also considered to be a cluster due to their partnerships with universities, schools, companies, and the government.
It even has an Acceleration Program for startups that need support in growth and expansion. Their partners include Krinova, Net Port Science Park, BTH University, and bbviet’s Edtech course. On the future plans of EdTech Southeast Sweden, Niclas Melin, Head of Cluster, says:
We’ll continue to strengthen our contribution in cross-border development and market launch of new services by further developing our EdTest concept (companies can co-create and get the solutions validated in Swedish schools) and growing our international partnerships. As a result, startups and established companies will have a more straightforward and more efficient validation process across several markets.
Other Incubator programs available in Europe:
The education technology sector is filled with bright, scalable solutions that want to improve and impact learning and teaching. Unfortunately, many of these companies will fail or die if they don’t reduce their risk.
That’s why EdTech-focused Incubator and Accelerator programs are imminent.They have been (and will continue to be) critical for the development of early-stage and established EdTech companies.
Many of these programs have been successful and have led to the development of profitable and reliable products in the Educational sector. Hopefully, in the upcoming years, more programs like these will pop up in other European countries, and through collaboration & communication:
- a more unified and allied EdTech community can be developed
- a dynamic investment environment can be generated
- better ideas and innovations can be delivered as the result of market competition.
If you know of other accelerators or incubators in Europe focused on EdTech, please let me know in the comments below so that I can add it to the list :)