The rise of edtech over the last ten years was a US phenomenon, rising from almost nothing in 2009 to over $700 million in the first half of 2018. In the last few years, edtech investment got white hot and lapped the US. Chinese edtech firms, which raised $2.2 billion across 270 deals in the first half of 2018.

Less visible in the US is the European market. As the second largest global market in educational spending, Europe has an undeniable potential role in the development of the edtech market. Despite 3,000 edtech companies across the region, the continent receives just 8% of worldwide investments.

LearnSpace, the first French accelerator dedicated to edtech, aims to change that. They ran their inaugural cohort from May to July this year. The group consists of 5 startups from around Europe. The program was designed in conjunction with teachers and researchers, indicating a unique level of emphasis being placed on developing edtech products grounded in sound pedagogy and the day-to-day dynamics of learning environments.

In addition to practitioners and academics, LearnSpace startups are mentored by successful edtech entrepreneurs, edtech investors, and heads of corporate training as they work to develop their strategy and product during the intensive 11-week program.

The program is supported by research, experimentation, and business mentoring by experts and entrepreneurs

The acceleration program was designed in collaboration with Nawal Abboub and Calliste Scheibling-Sève, cognitive science researchers, and Anne Clémence Le Noan, a French teacher.

Support and advice were provided by Frank-Albert Coates, Google Digital Academy; Ben Wirz, Brighteye Ventures; Marie-Christine Levet and Litzie Maarek, EduCapital; and the folks at the TheCamp Accelerator Program.

LearnSpace is dedicated to taking promising entrepreneurs from throughout the European continent global, a mission illustrated by the constituents of the inaugural cohort (which is composed of five companies from three European countries):

Bili Languages (England): a “digital penpal” app, that allows teachers to set tasks and provide light structure and support while students develop each other’s language skills, building relationships across cultural and linguistic barriers. Since launching last academic year, the Bili community has grown to over 400 schools in 15 countries.

Differ Chat (Norway): provides chatbot teaching assistants that help students find someone to work with, kickstart collaboration, and “remove the fear of looking stupid”.

DoItAbroad (France): through the “Pimp My Studies” application, Do It Abroad uses AI to provide every student who wishes to pursue a university degree abroad with personalized recommendations of programs that match their unique wishes for their international academic adventures.

Speekoo (France): seeks to empower learners to speak any new language in less than two hours through a pedagogy that offers over 200 five-minute lessons that teach phrases with similar structure and logic. Speekoo’s method is based on neuroscientific principles in order to align science with practice.

We Are Peers (France): focuses on informal learning, from peer interactions, social networks, on the job work, and knowledge sharing events. Instead of delivering content, their app seeks to find creative ways of bringing out the knowledge, interests, and talents within students to enable them to learn from each other.

“The support that we provide the startups selected to join LearnSpace will go well beyond the 11 weeks of the program. We are fully committed to their long-term success and want them to benefit from the LearnSpace ecosystem and network as a lifelong asset for their company,” says LearnSpace CEO Svenia Busson.

Adam Girsault, co-founder and COO of LearnSpace, adds: “We chose Paris for the richness of its local edtech ecosystem, one of the most dynamic in Europe. The creation of the edtech Observatory and the edtech France association and of two venture capital funds dedicated to investments in edtech startups makes Paris a highly strategic location for startups with global ambitions.”

LearnSpace recently hosted a demo for their cohort in Berlin on July 25th at Code University. Paris demonstrations will be in mid-September.

Keep an eye on the European edtech sector. See you at BETT in January.

Erik Day contributed research to this piece. For more, see:

This post was originally published on Forbes.


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