September Edition of the X Report
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In this month's X Report, we look at whether COVID-19 is the EdTech Pivot we expected and announce the EdTechX Global All Star Awards. Each month, we will share a snapshot of key trends, showcase the stars of today and tomorrow, provide some food for thought as well as mergers, acquisitions and fundraising.

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Is COVID-19 the EdTech Pivot?
By Charles McIntyre, IBIS Capital

We live in interesting times, as they say, with little understanding of what will happen next week let alone next year.

The fluctuations of COVID-19 cases, make it hard to get any sense of when we might return to normal or even a “new normal”. The question is can we make a virtue out of necessity, and improve on what we already have?

We are in the midst of the largest mass experiment of distance learning that there has ever been; the EdTech acceleration has advanced mass digital usage by up to 10 years. EdTech is now mainstream, no longer the twinkle in the eye of early adopters, but the here and now of education. That may sound exhilarating and the dawn of a new digital age, but it is laden with challenges. Challenges we need to take on, otherwise we will squander the chance to reshape our old-fashioned educational systems.

What has happened so far is a Zoom Boom. We have moved the classroom to video. The result is that we have proved we can learn at home, we don’t always need to be in a physical classroom. We have extended the reach of the classroom to wherever video conferencing will go. But what we haven’t learnt, is that this is not real EdTech. The world of EdTech is about how we enhance the learning experience and efficacy. How we take advantage of a digital world where we can address individual learning sensibilities on a bespoke basis at scale. Providing the visual learner with different content to the kinaesthetic student and the time to focus on particular problem areas. Responding to the way we learn, is the opportunity.

Teaching has always wanted to give the student the personal attention to allow he or she to bloom, but has never been able to. That is until now. The digital tools are out there and they are being used more than ever. The challenge is one of leadership, leadership prepared to embrace change.

It is self evident that if left to its own devices, the educational system will not change. Post COVID-19, it will slip back into the comfy armchair of yesteryear’s teaching pedagogy. How do we know this? Just look at the last 200 years, you will not notice much change in the classroom. We now have a catalyst for new thinking.

The strange thing is that the consumer, the learner, is ready and willing. They already use interactive AI driven media in lots of areas of their lives, just not so much in education. There are not many industries where the end user is already engaged, just waiting for the supply side to respond. So how do we get the supply side to respond?

Behind teachers, schools and universities sits the educational policy of government; curriculum, exams, facilities and funding. And government is generally frightened of change (for all the rhetoric) until pressure is brought to bear. COVID-19 has placed a huge amount of pressure and although governments really wish things to return to the way they were, now is the time to look at how we can reshape the educational approach.

To start with, we need policies that dictate a minimum level of digital interactive content within schools and universities, teacher training programmes to share knowledge on the best use of digital tools and funding allocations to manage the switch. The list isn’t long for a reason, it is there to prime the pump. Once the direction of travel is set, we will be amazed at what follows. Change in education has always been slow because of the number of gatekeepers involved: teachers, schools, governors, districts and government. But with a little push from the top we can finally create an education system fit for the 21st Century. Now is our time, let us all come together to make it happen.

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EdTechX Global All Star Awards Announced

The eighth annual EdTechX Global All Star Awards are set to honour the fastest growing and most innovative EdTech companies across the world. The three categories are Startup, Scale-Up and Impact. Two winners and three runner ups were announced in each category

The Startup category featured companies who have shown the most innovation and growth over the last year. The winners for 2020 are Perlego, who offer unlimited access to over 340,000 education eBooks and are on a mission to build the world’s online learning library and, who focus on teaching business skills to people around the world via gamified, easy-to-digest bite-sized courses.

The three runner-up companies are MobieTrain, Vision Education and

To be eligible for consideration in the EdTechXGlobal Scale-Up category, applicants must have revenue above €5m. Applicants included education and training companies who have shown the most revenue growth momentum over the last 3 years. The first winner is PeopleCert, a global leader in the assessment and certification of professional skills, partnering with multi-national organizations and government bodies to develop and deliver market-leading exams. The second winner of the Scale-up category is OpenClassrooms, who bring over 3 million learners to their platform via their 400+ courses and 50 certified online degree programs known as 'learning paths'.

The three runner-up companies are Kognity, Growth Tribe and Emagister.

The Impact Awards recognise companies whose main focus is on demonstrable economic and/or societal impact or on prioritising ‘purpose over profit’. Elements that were considered included improvement in life outcomes, positive economic and/or societal impact, growth, scale and innovation. The winner of the Impact Awards category are Busuu, who combine language learning courses, designed by experts, with AI-powered features and a community where learners can interact with native speakers and Seneca who are a homework & revision platform for 4,000,000+ students that apply cognitive neuroscience to make learning more efficient and enjoyable.

The three runner-up companies are CareerFoundry, ODILO and Squirrel AI.

Congratulations to all winners and runner up companies for the 2020 EdTechX Global All Star Awards. Applications for the 2021 Awards will open in the New Year - read more about the 2020 awards here >

market round up header
Market Roundup Logos1-1
Education market round up

The Inconvenient Truth about the EdTech Boom

Nearly half of teachers have considered changing jobs
Work market round up
Three trends shaping the future of work
Tech enabled office post COVID-19
how should companies be redesigning offices
investment market round up
Unacademy raises $150m
Owl Ventures Raises $595m
EdTech Awash in Capital
M&A Highlights
M&A Activity >
Prep Ladder 3P learning
September M&A two

1 Deals sourced from Capital IQ

2 Australia and New Zealand academic operations of Laureate Education




Significant Fundraising Activity >
Vedantu Coursera



Valuation Benchmarks

Education Industry Analysis - 2020YTD

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As economies start opening up and we get used to operating in this “new normal”, focus has now turned to what activity in the Education sector could look like going forward. As may be expected, M&A activity in the Education sector has declined significantly in 2020YTD, with total deal value being less than half of that in any corresponding period since 2015. Extreme market volatility has resulted in many deals being paused or called-off, and the monthly deal value plummeted to a low of only $12m in May.

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Recovery began in June, and Asian deal makers led the way with acquisitions including China Distance Education ($280m), Singapore-based Creative Knowledge ($116m), and India-based Prepladder ($50m). The region has contributed over 50% of deal value in 2020 to date, despite only accounting for 26% of deal volume – a clear progression from the high volume, low value transactions we have seen in the region historically. Many acquisitions involved online learning and test prep for K12 and post-secondary education, and a particularly interesting development was Strategic Education’s first expansion outside of the US through the acquisition of Laureate Education’s Australia and New Zealand academic operations (refer to M&A highlights section for more details).

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Financial and strategic players with funds to invest will likely have a lot to think about over the next few months. Lower valuations and challenging conditions for traditional education models are creating opportunities to consolidate, and at the other end of the scale, EdTech startups addressing markets born out of COVID are calling for growth capital. The Education sector offers more options than ever to create value, and is likely to see a flurry of activity before the end of the year.

Source: CapitalIQ; deal values included where disclosed

EdTechX Global Report - 2020 Guide to Education & Training