CamBioScience secures £1.1 million from global backers to develop its AI learning platform

CamBioScience Ltd has clinched around £1.1 million of funding from global backers to develop its pioneering learning platform.

The investment, from an early stage investment house Beaubridge (UK) Ltd, will fuel the global scale-up of OBRIZUM®, a transformative learning platform that incorporates artificial intelligence to maximise and quicken individual employee learning and training processes.

OBRIZUM® uses powerful AI algorithms to continually personalise and enhance each employee’s learning experience, and automates data organisation and transfer, generating deep real-time analytical reports that quantify a company’s return on learning investment for businesses.

Dr Chibeza C. Agley, CEO and co-founder of CamBioScience, which was a member of Cohort 3 of the EDUCATE programme, said: “OBRIZUM transforms E-Learning into AI-Learning and takes personalised learning to another level. 

“This latest financing from Beaubridge will help us realise OBRIZUM’s full global potential and bring powerful learning and training benefits to business and individuals alike, just when they need it most.”

He added that CamBioScience’s leading AI specialists have built OBRIZUM® to specifically address the three greatest challenges confronting digital learning – automation, personalisation and analytics.

Derk Ohler, Investment Director at Beaubridge (UK) Ltd. “Businesses and individuals need to evolve from traditional static training processes to life-long learning. It is not an option but a requirement.

“OBRIZUM is helping professionals and businesses meet this necessity. This is an exciting time to be investing in EdTech and CamBioScience is at the forefront of this industry.”

CamBioScience brings together cutting-edge technologists, leading academics, software developers and business visionaries to make deep data more user friendly; offer advanced life science training courses; and develop AI learning platforms that help transform the way people and businesses operate. 

EdTech companies find it “very, very difficult” to engage with UK schools, MPs are told

UK technology companies are struggling to engage with British schools, despite calls by education ministers for EdTech companies to do more to support teaching, the Commons Education Select Committee heard this week.

Priya Lakhani, the founder and CEO of CENTURY Tech, which was among Cohort 1 of the EDUCATE programme, told the cross-party committee of MPs that tech companies find it “very, very difficult” to engage with England’s “fragmented” school system, and said her firm did more business in the Middle East, Africa and US in 14 days than it did in five years in the UK.

She told the inquiry into the Fourth Industrial Revolution that there had been no “coherent response” from the Department for Education to the rise of EdTech development, with headteachers more likely to discuss the issue than government officials, who did not understand how artificial intelligence could be used in education.

Ms Lakhani hailed the work being done on the EDUCATE programme and told the committee there was no lack of will for tech companies to engage in schools. But many were reluctant because they had been “burned” by previous pieces of technology that did not fulfil their promise.

She warned that, without input from schools, artificial intelligence platforms like Century’s could “create social mobility issues”.

“You’ll have, potentially, some of the wealthier children, the more advantaged children using all those great applications that teach them more about their choices, their preferences, the news they want to read. And you potentially have children who are disadvantaged not reaping all the benefits.

“That’s why it’s important that, for example, the educational institutions try and teach children about these particular applications, about AI, about the impact of AI.”

She also called for a review of how pupils are tested in schools, warning that teachers “will always drive their students, because that’s how they’re measured, to those tests”.

Schools do not test for adaptability, creativity, learning agility or empathy, Ms Lakhani warned. “There’s no conversation about a wholesome education, an enriching education. It’s just nonsense, what I see in terms of the curriculum. So much pressure on teachers to deliver something that no employer is going to thank them for.”

The hearing was attended by EDUCATE director, Professor Rose Luckin, who is specialist adviser to the inquiry, and co-founded the Institute for Ethical AI in Education with Ms Lakhani last October.

New Year’s Resolutions for EdTech


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

With increased global investment and new innovations constantly emerging, we’re excited to see what 2019 will bring for the EdTech sector. As EDUCATE enters its third year, it feels like a good opportunity to reflect on what we have learned as a programme, and where we can challenge ourselves further to help our companies to deliver the best possible, high quality EdTech.

Here are our New year’s resolutions for EdTech in 2019:

1. Help educators become more discerning consumers

For too many teachers and school staff, EdTech has moved from blackboard to whiteboard – and little in-between or beyond. Yet EdTech is here, and here to stay, and whilst teachers need to be informed of its many benefits, they also need to be encouraged to challenge its uses and effectiveness. To help with this, we’ll be launching a new resource later this month to support schools with buying and implementing new technology.

2. Keep challenging entrepreneurs to think differently

The central thrust of the EDUCATE programme will always be the development of EdTech products which are underpinned by research and evidence. By escalating this message, we can help entrepreneurs to be mindful of the fact that, however exciting and innovative their product, it must be fit for purpose and useful to teachers and learners.

3. Bring policy makers and entrepreneurs together more

Policy-makers often have a notion of the importance of EdTech in teaching and learning, and an awareness of the rate of technological advancement, but can have little knowledge of its various applications. Creating opportunities for dialogue between them and developers through conferences, seminars and other events can help to accelerate the speed at which EdTech is introduced into schools, which in turn will result in greater engagement and financial investment in the sector.

4. Promote the importance of ethics in the development EdTech

The development and use of EdTech brings with it a whole host of ethical issues and challenges, including the storing, use and interpretation of data about teachers and pupils. Following the launch of the Institute for Ethical AI in Education last year, we hope the sector will continue to establish high quality practices in this area.

CENTURY Tech partners with SSAT in project to cut teacher workload

One of EDUCATE’S most successful alumni, CENTURY Tech, is to collaborate with a leading UK educational organisation in a unique project to reduce teacher workload and improve pupil learning.

The partnership with SSAT (The Schools, Students and Teachers network), which represents thousands of schools, teachers and students, will explore how AI, big data and neuroscience can offer pupils a more personalised learning experience.

Schools are being asked to come forward to follow a programme of learning between January and Easter, 2019, using CENTURY’s technology.

The move follows a keynote speech given by Priya Lakhani OBE, the company’s chief executive and founder, to the SSAT conference in December, during which she demonstrated how the intelligence learning platform can improve performance by an average of 30%, while saving teachers up to six hours a week.

Participating schools will need to commit to implementing the pilot across an entire year group with a focus on science, and to deliver lessons and homework using CENTURY’s learning platform.

The project will evaluate the impact on teacher workload and on different groups of pupils, as well as how it affects formative assessment. It will also help to identify leadership and management challenges for school leaders.

Ms Lakhani said: “We are delighted to partner with SSAT to help solve some of the challenges faced by teachers in the classroom.

“The most important person in the classroom is the child and the most powerful person is the teacher. With this in mind, we have focused on instant differentiation to improve learner outcomes and on reducing teacher workload while providing instant rich insights to the teacher.”

Sue Williamson, chief executive of SSAT, said: “The school system is losing too many teachers and one of the main reasons for this is teacher workload. We need to create greater time for teachers to focus on greater personalisation of learning.

“SSAT and CENTURY have the knowledge and expertise to support schools to participate in practical research to see how artificial intelligence can transform learning.”

*Schools interested in taking part in the SSAT/Century pilot are asked to email: transformation@ssatuk.co.uk.

EDUCATE to host its second EdWards ceremony during Bett Show 2019

The EDUCATE programme is to host its second EdWards ceremony during the Bett Show 2019, recognising the achievements and success of the EdTech companies with which it works.

The event, which will be hosted by Sophie Bailey, founder of EdTech Podcast, will see more than 20 entrepreneurs, SMEs and start-ups receive the quality mark, following a stringent process of validation of its work on the programme.

Recipients will receive either an Evidence Aware or Evidence Applied EdWard, depending on the extent to which they have met the criteria. Those who receive the Evidence Aware mark have demonstrated an understanding of EDUCATE’s evidence-led approach, while the latter recipients have applied that awareness to the delivery or development of their concept.

It means that schools and organisations who deal with a company bearing the EdWard mark on its website or marketing materials can be assured that the product or service they offer has been developed with a sound basis in research, and is evidenced by what is effective in teaching and learning.

Since its inception in 2017, more than 160 EdTech companies have been admitted to the EDUCATE programme.

Professor Rose Luckin, Director of EDUCATE and Professor of Learner Centred Design at UCL Knowledge Lab, said: “The Bett Show is the perfect occasion at which to celebrate the achievements of our cohorts.

“We have been impressed with the level of commitment they have shown both to developing their own ideas and products, and to their enthusiasm for the programme.

“These recipients represent what makes the UK a world leader in EdTech development – innovation, creativity, commitment and enthusiasm – all of which are underpinned with an evidence base of what work sand is effective. They are among the very best in their field.”

The first EdWards ceremony was held at the London Festival of Learning, in June 2018, during which more than 30 companies received the quality mark. The EDUCATE programme now plans to make it a biannual event.

Earwig Academic included in Government report on special needs assessment

Earwig Academic, part of the EDUCATE programme’s cohort 4 intake, has been mentioned in a Department for Education (DfE) report into the future of assessment of pupils with special needs and disabilities.

The report, Piloting the 7 aspects of engagement for summative assessment: qualitative evaluation, published in November, is an evaluation of the findings of a pilot designed to explore the use of the 7 aspects of engagement approach as a method of summative assessment for pupils not engaged in subject-specific learning.

Ministers want to roll out a new approach to assessing pupils with complex needs from 2020, which will focus on their abilities in special areas such as awareness, curiosity and anticipation.

Earwig Academic, a tool for teachers to record, track and assess pupils, particularly children with special needs, is mentioned as one of the on-line platforms used by some of the pilot school to monitor pupil progress and outcomes using their chosen assessment methods.

Earwig offers teachers a granular and flexible way of keeping records and is suitable for using wide variants that may be necessary for some pupils. It allows teachers to input data easily, including information about the specific curriculum they are using, so they can benchmark pupils against what they are achieving, and customise it for any individual child’s needs.

Peter Gelardi, Earwig Academic’s CEO, said: ‘The DfE’s requirements for the on-going assessment of special needs children has become much more comprehensive in recent years and the software designed for this purpose ten or fifteen years ago simply can’t provide schools with what they need. 

“That is why the DfE is pleased to see the arrival of new packages like Earwig, which break the mould and provide schools with a way to improve their teaching and, therefore, outcomes for pupils, without adding to staff workload.”

Professor Rose Luckin appointed Specialist Adviser to Commons Education Select Committee

EDUCATE’s director, Professor Rose Luckin, has been appointed as Specialist Adviser to the all-party Commons Education Select Committee in its inquiry into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Professor Luckin, who gave evidence to the committee in October, will work closely with the committee to plan evidence sessions, offer advice on witnesses, and support committee members and staff in the publication of a final report.

She will attend sessions of the committee in Westminster to provide oral briefings and advise on sources of information and evidence throughout the inquiry process, a spokesman said.

“As a leading expert on artificial intelligence and education the committee will benefit from Professor Luckin’s in-depth knowledge and experience of the sector and policy area,” he added.

Professor Luckin said: “I am thrilled to have been invited to play such an important role in this inquiry.

“What we are going through is, indeed, a revolution and serious questions have to be asked about how we prepare people for the future.

“This isn’t something we can experiment with, and we have to get it right because it involves people’s lives. It is about so much more than just how we teach STEM subjects.”

The inquiry is examining how best to prepare young people to take advantage of future opportunities by looking at the suitability of the school curriculum. It will also look at the role of lifelong learning and how best to help people climb the ladder of opportunity in the future.

The committee will continue its work in the New Year and is expected to report on its findings in the Spring.

A transcript of the session involving Professor Luckin can be found here.

Strong EDUCATE presence at FUTUREBOOK LIVE 2018

Six of the EDUCATE programme’s companies showcased their products and services at the annual Bookseller conference, FUTUREBOOKLIVE, on November 30, while representatives from four more participated in conference sessions.

The six – Wizenoze, Structural Learning, MyCognition, EvidenceB, Edval and Brands Whisper’g – talked to publishing professionals about their work, and how different platforms can be used to facilitate the accessing of content and information.

Little Bridge and Yoto took part in panel discussions, while Fraim and Get my Grades pitched for funding as part of the PitchEd session, an annual competition for EdTech start-ups.  Houtan Froushan, EDUCATE’s programme relationship manager, was one of the four judges.

EDUCATE’s presence at the event  – made possible through its delivery partner Besa, and in association with the EdTech Exchange – was a departure from its usual activities, but it was asked to participate following its inaugural appearance at the Bett Show in January, this year, when FUTUREBOOK conference organisers spotted a connection between EdTech and the future of publishing.

In a keynote speech to the conference during the session on Future Learning: The Big Ideas, Professor Rose Luckin, EDUCATE’s director, talked about the need for human intelligence (HI) to work alongside artificial intelligence (AI) in the development of educational technology (EdTech).

She described the many uses and benefits of EdTech to teachers and learners, ranging from the “personal scaffolding” it could provide to an individual student’s learning, to easing the pressures of workload and being able to recognise the symptoms of anxiety in teachers and pupils.

Describing the work of the EDUCATE programme, Professor Luckin said that by the end of next year it will have had an involvement in 25% of all EdTech companies in the UK, many of which were using AI. She stressed the need for “people to work together in developing AI, because it is the only way we will get it right”.

For EDUCATE cohorts it was a unique chance to exhibit and demonstrate their work to a new audience.

Dr. Nukhet Vardar, founder of Brands Whispr’ing, said: “It was a great opportunity to meet with different academic publishers and get a chance to talk about EDUCATE as well as introducing our product to such a wider audience. Many people were impressed by the EDUCATE programme and wanted to find out more about it.”

Natalie Nezhal, media and marketing manager for Edval Education, said: “We’re extremely proud to be part of the EDUCATE programme, helping to lead the way in evidence-informed, research-based EdTech. I thoroughly enjoyed presenting our timetabling solutions at FUTUREBOOK and had some interesting discussions. People were particularly surprised to learn how timetabling can facilitate flexible working and workload reduction for educators.”

EDUCATE cohorts pitch to financial backers in front of a packed City Hall audience

A capacity audience of 300 people attended the inaugural EDUCATE Investor Summit and Demo Day at City Hall, yesterday (November 26), to watch 11 leading EdTech companies pitch to financial backers for possible funding, investment and partnerships.

The businesses, all successful former participants of the EDUCATE programme, each gave a six-minute presentation to investors, who have a combined fund value of £850 million, before answering questions in a Dragon’s Den-style event.

The investors will now contact the companies privately to discuss any potential opportunities for collaboration.

Each company was selected to participate following a stringent application process and was required to be a recipient of an EdWard – the EDUCATE programme’s own quality mark. The 11 were:

  • Priyanka Agarwal – Connet2teach
  • Matthew Harker -MyPocketSkill
  • Phillpp Legner – Mathigon
  • Heather Lyons – Blue{Shift} education
  • Scarlett McCabe – Debate Mate Online
  • Murray Morrison – Tassomai
  • Charles Roddie – MathSpire
  • Emma Rodgers – Little Bridge
  • Dr Becky Sage – Interactive Scientific
  • Keiron Sparrowhawk – MyCognition
  • Dr Tom Judd – Virti

They were pitching to potential backers including venture capitalists, angel investors, crowdfunding platforms, accelerator programmes, as well as an EdTech investment fund.

Professor Rose Luckin, EDUCATE’s director, told the participants, investors and distinguished guests from the EdTech sector, that education was facing “untold challenges” which were exciting and scary in equal measure.

“One thing is clear, and that is that we need people with skills, understanding and knowledge that are perhaps different to those we have traditionally needed,” she said.

“We need educational technology that is fit for purpose to help bring that about.” Professor Luckin added that, for the first time ever, thanks to technology, it might be possible to educate all the world’s population.

Rajesh Agrawal, London Deputy Mayor for Business, told the audience that the future of the capital “depends on the educational opportunities afforded to our young people, and embracing technology is a key part of this”. He hailed London as the EdTech capital of the world, and home to a quarter of all European EdTech companies.

Koby Yogaretnam, EDUCATE’s business lead, who opened the event, said the Investor Summit and Demo Day emphasised the importance of London as the world capital of EdTech, and the role of the EDUCATE programme as a leader in the field.

“Many of those in attendance said the event was one of the best they had attended in the Edtech sector and commented on the high quality of entrepreneurs presenting,” he said. “The Demo Day felt like a celebration of the UK EdTech sector, and was an excellent opportunity for the EDUCATE programme to promote its global offering into 2019 and beyond.”

EDUCATE companies to pitch to investors in Dragon’s Den-style event at City Hall, London

Eleven companies that have successfully completed the EDUCATE programme will be pitching for investment, funding and business partnerships in a Dragon’s Den-style event, being held at City Hall, in London, today (Monday, November 26).

The Investor Summit and Demo Day, organised by EDUCATE and believed to be the first event of its kind held in Europe, is being hosted by Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy London Mayor for Business.

It will showcase some of the capital’s pioneering educational technology (EdTech) entrepreneurs and innovators. Companies will demonstrate their products and services, and pitch for funding or corporate partnerships from investors who have a combined fund value of £850 million.

The Investor Summit and Demo Day is designed to connect EdTech companies with venture capitalists, angel investors and corporations that want to buy, partner or invest in EdTech. Each of the participants had to apply to take part in the event.

The demos will be rapid-fire 5-minute presentations with 3 minutes of Q&A for entrepreneurs to pitch to investors.  The following companies have been chosen to pitch, and are developing EdTech in areas as diverse as coding, language learning, maths and enterprise skills:

  • virti.com
  • tassomai.com
  • connect2teach.com
  • mycognition.com
  • mathigon.org
  • debatemate.com
  • littlebridge.com
  • interactivescientific.com
  • blueshiftcoding.com
  • mypocketskill.com
  • mathspire.com

Koby Yogaretnam, EDUCATE Business Lead, said: “The response from the EdTech sector and interested parties to this event has been phenomenal. Everything points to this being a trail-blazing occasion, which will set the tone for the development of EdTech in the UK into the future.

“The interest expressed in the Demo Day also reflects the burgeoning EdTech industry as an attractive investment landscape, with powerful corporate partnerships, mergers and acquisitions of innovative businesses taking place globally.

“EDUCATE will use this opportunity to showcase the very best of our programme and, in turn, we want the audience and investment world to understand why innovation in education is now happening; how to embrace it and how the EDUCATE programme with its world class research acumen is integral to defining effective learning outcomes.”

Participants and guests will hear keynote speeches from Professor Rose Luckin, the EDUCATE director, Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business and Kevin Bone, a partner with LGT Impact Ventures.

Mr Agrawal said: “London is Europe’s technology capital, and home to some of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs. The capital’s future depends on the educational opportunities afforded to our young people and embracing the opportunities presented by new technology is a key part of this.

“I’m delighted that City Hall is able to host EDUCATE’s Investor Summit and Demo Day and look forward to learning about the latest ideas in EdTech.”