Global incubator for education-focused tech start-ups launches

Pearson Catalyst to support 10 early-stage ventures from April

Pearson, the education company behind the Penguin brand and The Financial Times Group, has launched an incubator for education start-ups.

Launching internationally, Pearson Catalyst will offer 10 education-focused tech start-ups from across the globe the opportunity to be matched with a Pearson executive as a key sponsor and mentor for three months from April 2013.

Continuing to work from their own work base, each start-up will benefit from the opportunity to work closely with a Pearson brand, as well as $10,000 to cover travel and related costs and the chance to present to technology experts at a Pearson demo day in November 2013.

Supporting start-ups that complement or enhance an existing Pearson brand, international firm Pearson follows a number of US firms who have chosen to support education technology (edtech) start-ups.

Most recently higher education programme provider Kaplan and Socratic Labs both launched their edtech accelerators in New York, however unlike each of these accelerators, as an incubator, Pearson Catalyst will not be directly investing in the chosen start-ups.

Richard Taylor, founder of media and consulting business MediaTaylor and former owner of education communications agency EdComs has previously criticised education group Pearsons for failing to actively invest in UK education start-ups.

He said in his MediaTaylor blog: “Since investing £1.38m in Blue Duck Education (MangaHigh – hardly a start-up) Pearson has (to my rather imperfect knowledge) not invested in a single UK education start up!

“Pearson don’t invest in the UK start-up scene, US companies do, but are isolationist and at the very bottom of the pile is the innovation and creativity of UK edu start-ups who are being starved of early stage funding or forced into economic exile by the pathos of local investors.”

Start-ups that have recently emerged from the edtech space include child development-focused game producer Night Zookeeper and behaviour management software Class Dojo. While Night Zookeeper secured an investment from tech accelerator Wayra UK, Class Dojo sought investment from the US.

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