No, MOOCs are not the only Edtech start-ups to watch out

Writer: GabrielleThomas

Within the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN agenda to be achieved before 2030, the 4th is « Quality Education». A Tech VC point of view about Impact Edtech start-ups.

How to reach a world with « Quality Education» in 2030? Is it only possible? SDG 4, set by the UN agenda starting in 2016 is about « Ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning ».

Among public and non-profits initiatives committed to do their best to achieve these Development priorities, yes, tech start-ups could contribute to SDGs. Not only they can take part to it, but they can do it with a unique creativity and relevance, thanks to User Experience improvements, design thinking tools and Lean methodologies, etc. Tech start-ups may scale fast and spread their positive impact on society and environment while growing from local stakes to international challenges. A more holistic approach towards sustainable development could consist in including tech start-ups role into SDGs global agenda that is what I pledge for.

Through Edtech-oriented hackathons, accelerators and events reviews & our 1500 annual start-ups dealflow, as a tech VC, I noted various Edtech start-ups contributing to SDGs agenda in France.

Here are some trends and examples.

1. « Ensure inclusive Education»

Some ways to achieve this goal through Edtech startups:

  • Trying to offer everyone the same educational opportunities and help every student to choose the most fitted professional way. For example,MyFuture helps every High School student to find an internship fitted to his skills and interests.
  • Giving access to education to every young boy and girl, wherever they are. Many Edtech startups propose online classes, like Openclassroom‘s MOOCs for example or Mookyskills.
  • Boosting pupils cooperation and social integration in Education to motivate everyone. Studizen improves students’ collaboration and organization in their campus with all its educational stakeholders.
  • Enabling any relevant educative content to be shared. For example,360learning helps you to create your own MOOC into your company or school.

2. « Ensure quality education for all »

Some Edtech start-ups develop games on pads to reach « long tail » markets through specific categories of people, focusing on potential victims of social exclusion : for example, Edupad for every children everywhere ,Naturalpadfor people who need to be encouraged to do sports (disabled people, etc.). Thus, Auticiel aims at teaching specific contents to autists’ children using games on a simple pad.

Enlarging the scope of Education, Chalkboard Education built a learning app for all with an improved content, while OPopoi uses games to teach, trying to reach everyone with a quality education.

Furthermore, over school hours, Afterclasse proposes tools to rehearse lessons, going further, like Live mentor which enables online live lessons, matching teachers with students to go deeper into contents.

Other Edtech start-ups aim at enlarging children‘s education with useful skills like code (like Magic makers workshops) and foreign languages (like Pili Pop) .

3. « Promote lifelong learning»»

Many Edtech start-ups aim at improving languages learning, even for adults, like Gymglish , Duolingo and Ayni.

A huge challenge for adults learning is improving their memory: some apps enable the improvement of one’s memory abilities, to keep being « alert » and to fight against Alzheimer’s ravages, for example Memrise or Memorado

Other kind of specific learnings are useful for everyone like Salvum which teaches first aid skills through serious gaming or Imagana helping adults concerned by illiteracy stakes (7% of the French working population, according to the ANLCI) to learn again how to read and write their own language easily.

In corporate contexts, more and more Edtech start-ups propose efficient learning tools such as Biomodex using 3D printed models for surgical gestures or Memopulse, based on spaced repetition which makes training actions much more efficient to train and maintain a high level of knowledge in a company. Teachonmars is an app to boost learnings efficiency in corporate contexts, focused on teaching useful skills more than general knowledge.

All these Edtech start-ups have a more and more important positive «impact » on society’s concerns , according to the SDGs stakes. Some of them are already backed by impact investing VC funds, such as Imagana byS’FAIR(Siparex Group), OpenClassroom by Citizen Capital, etc. or supported by social entrepreneurs networks like LearnAssembly by Ashoka , or MyFuturebyMakesense.

It’s all clear that tech start-ups have a big role to play in terms of creativity , UX design for people’s essential needs, and improvement of scalable solutions to reach SDGs priorities before 2030. According to the resilience and the relevance of more and more tech tools today, why not underlining tech innovations in the Sustainable Development field ? For sure, Edtech start-ups are more and more part of these challenges & We cannot reach SDGs achievements without tech start-ups contribution.