Learning technology researcher Metaari has published research that the flow of investment into Edtech reached $9.5 billion internationally over 2017. This is a continuation of a strong trend of growth in the sector, which saw investment jump 46% from $6.5 billion to $7.3 billion between 2015 and 2016. Last year’s record investment level was shared between 813 companies, itself another record.
Another developing trend in the technology in education space is that the majority of investment is not actually focused on school education. There was a relatively modest $200 million rise to $1.2 billion of investment into ‘K-12’ Edtech companies. ‘K-12’ encompasses primary and secondary education. That is equal to 13% of the total Edtech investment over the year. And only $682 million, a 7% rise, went to companies with a focus on technology for higher education. The remaining $7.5 billion was invested in consumer and corporate facing Edtech companies and products.
The investment figures covered by the Metaari report also only cover external investment into education technology companies and not internal investment. Amazon, for example, has recently hired Stanford Edtech pioneer Candace Thille to lead its internal corporate Edtech programme. It is thought she will be working on software the online retail and technology giant will implement into its own corporate learning programs. Amazon also launched its ‘Amazon Inspire’ library of open education resources last summer and is generally interested in investing in further and pushing its involvement in the Edtech space.
Edtech areas of particular interest to investors last year included products using AI and augmented and virtual reality. Educational robots for children was another hot investment area. 58% of the total sum invested in Edtech over 2017 went to companies based in the USA. Other countries with a major share of investment included China, with companies in the country attracting $1.77 billion.
One region making strong progress in Edtech investment is Africa, with 17 technology in education companies receiving funding. Startup hotspots on the continent with an Edtech presence include South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Edtech is considered to be of particular importance to Africa as a means of ensuring sometimes isolated, rural populations get access to educational resources. Internet access and computers remain an obstacle but numerous initiatives are heavily invested in the space and significant progress can be expected over coming years.