A Meeting of the Minds: Global Perspectives on EdTech Innovation

A Meeting of the Minds: Global Perspectives on EdTech Innovation

A Meeting of the Minds: Global Perspectives on EdTech Innovation

What happens when you bring together 30 EdTech leaders from around the world for a 1 day forum on the future of innovation?

On the closing day of Shaping the Future 4, MindCET hosted an invite only session titled “Solving the Biggest EdTech Challenges, Business Models from Around the Globe”. The guest list for the event included a virtual who’s who of leading education players from around the world. The crowd was equally diverse, as 6 continents were represented, at CET’s office in Tel Aviv.

Throughout the morning, participants had a chance to hear about EdTech innovation from a wide range of perspectives. Tony Wan, Managing Editor at EdSurge led off the morning with thoughts on the U.S. education market. That was followed by a striking conversation on the European market, led by Pierre Antoine Ulmo, of PAU Education. As the U.S. and Europe are home to mature education systems, the initial group discussion centered on how early stage companies can break in to those traditional systems.

One important takeaway from these first two presentations came from Harold Levy, former Chancellor of NYC Schools and currently the Executive Director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. He noted that there exists a tension between breakthrough innovation and willingness of school systems, specifically in Higher Education, to adopt new concepts in learning. For a startup company to enter the market, they may be held back by the innovative nature of their offering. The group discussed this challenge and in the afternoon session started to develop a thesis around encouraging innovation in EdTech companies.

The session then shifted toward emerging EdTech ecosystems. We heard from Shantanu Prakash, founder and CEO of Educomp, India’s largest education company. He described 8 key trends that in his opinion will define worldwide markets. Prakash described the shift from B2B to B2C delivery models in education. Stating that India is projected to have eight hundred and ten million smart phones by 2020, he highlighted the impact that the mobile revolution will have on education in emerging geographies.

Jamie Martin, who leads Citi Africa, the first education accelerator based on the African continent, followed this talk with perhaps the most hotly debated statement of the session. Africa, in Martin’s opinion is the most promising education opportunity in the world. Despite great infrastructure challenges, the education system in Africa is ripe for breakthrough disruption. Indeed, Africa is starting to see some of its innovation come to fruition, highlighted by startup GetSmarter being acquired for one-hundred and three million dollars in the spring of 2017.

The afternoon session of the day was aimed at creating concrete outcomes from the conversations that preceded. The gathering was broken down into small teams, each focused on a different sphere of influence. Groups focused on creating investment vehicles and business development opportunities for emerging markets. They also developed plans for encouraging cross-national piloting programs and for incentivizing innovation. Dr. Martin Dougiamas, founder of Moodle, described his team’s output and encouraged more cross-platform integration, especially with companies emanating from his home country of Australia.

Nina Iles, who leads the British Educational Suppliers Association summarized her experience with a telling and poignant statement. She said that despite the status and accomplishments of the group, everyone was pushed out of their comfort zone. Corporate executives, venture capital investors and heads of major organizations were all challenged to work together to define and start to implement concrete solutions for the world’s biggest education challenges. The unique perspectives shared and the foundational solutions that emanated from this event will surely help shape the future of education.