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Navitas Ventures invests in Australian edtech accelerator

Navitas Ventures, the education venturing arm of global education provider Navitas, has invested in a national business accelerator that aims to help incubate 200 Australian edtech startups over the next five years to help meet growth targets laid out in the recently released National Strategy for International Education 2025.

Navitas Ventures global edtech map, Project LandscapeNavitas Ventures is mapping the global edtech sector with its Project Landscape. Image: Navitas Ventures.

"We see this as a way of potentially future-proofing Navitas by understanding the emerging trends that are occurring across the educational space"

EduGrowth is one of the first investments made by the Navitas Ventures initiative, which was launched last year and which Navitas CEO Rod Jones said this week is “primarily about scaling ideas and delivering education innovation” through incubation, investment and partnerships.

“We see this as a way of potentially future-proofing Navitas by being well over and understanding the emerging trends and developments that are occurring across the educational space,” Jones told investors and shareholders on an interim FY17 earnings call.

“With $5tn spent in education globally per annum, we see huge growth potential for the Australian edutech industry”

Navitas Ventures is one of six founding members, along with Deakin University, Monash University, La Trobe University, Charles Sturt University and Griffith University, that have invested A$1.8m in EduGrowth over five years.

Providing funding and mentoring support for burgeoning companies, the accelerator was formed in a bid to help Australia to deliver international education to 100 million learners by 2025 – an ambitious target cited in Austrade’s AIE2025 Roadmap.

“Australian edutech companies have an important role to deliver education and skills to meet the needs of the world’s one billion students by 2025. This will only be done by driving innovation through new education products and delivery models,” said Grame Barty, executive director for international operations at Austrade, which is also backing the project.

The initiative will provide an initial funding round of $50,000 in exchange for a 6% company share, following a call for submissions in August. It expects to invest in and grow more than 200 Australian education companies by 2025, according to its inaugural CEO, Riley Batchelor.

“The international education industry is Australia’s largest service export and future growth engine,” Batchelor said.

“With $5tn spent in education globally per annum, we see huge growth potential for the Australian edutech industry.”

“We want to bring together higher education, VET, early childhood learning, K-12, English learning and industry to participate in the local startup ecosystem and turn a currently divided and underrepresented group into a strong, united network,” he told The PIE News.

He added that the nonprofit organisation will look to fund initiatives in online learning, hardware, software and market places. It will also include launch and scale programmes for those companies and teams that fall outside the scope of the full time accelerator.

Alongside the accelerator, EduGrowth will provide a programme of community events including presentations from edtech founders, workshops with mentors and student hackathons.

The inaugural programme is expected to commence this month, with 10 startups to be announced in the coming months.

Navitas Ventures CEO Patrick Brothers said that prior to its involvement with EduGrowth, the initiative had been “keenly following the success of education startup accelerators around the world, all driving their ecosystems to compete for a leadership role in transforming the way the world learns”.

“Project Landscape is our vision for a global, open-source, community driven map of education innovation and technology”

Alongside its investments in the sector, Navitas Ventures has also developed an edtech mapping project to chart edtech investments and innovations taking place around the world.

“Project Landscape is our vision for a global, open-source, community driven map of education innovation and technology,” wrote Brothers on the Navitas Ventures blog.

The first iteration of Project Landscape, produced with San Francisco-based data analysis and visualisation platform Quid, drew on articles, blog posts, company profiles, and patents to compile a sample of over 2,000 companies from over 40 countries, representing $16bn of investment.

The biggest group (416) were categorised as ‘content’ companies, including publishers, with others divided into platforms, access, immersion, learning and progression companies.

Dubbed a “minimum viable project”, the data it has produced is “incomplete and overlaps but it’s more than enough to seed the project and collect feedback”, according to Brothers.

In the coming months, Navitas Ventures will develop Project Landscape further, releasing new research insights and using the findings to predict future edtech trends.

Eventually, it will be “a global, open source, community driven initiative to help us understand what the next 10 years in education might look like”, Brothers wrote.

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