The advancement of technology has disrupted almost all industries and the education sector is no exception. Education Technology, a.k.a EdTech, has begun a revolutionary change in how far, how deep, and how well education is disseminated.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only boosted this transformation by instilling confidence in the society that learning is not confined to four-walled classrooms.
As a result, the majority of Edtech startups witnessed a surge in terms of customers, funding, attention from investors, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders.
The first Dutch Edtech ecosystem report
Today, Dutch Edtech, in collaboration with Dealroom, StartupAmsterdam, Ministries of EZK and OCW, Marineterrein Amsterdam, Growth Tribe, and itorium, has published the first Dutch edtech ecosystem report — The State of the Dutch EdTech Ecosystem 2021.
The comprehensive report showcases the position of the Netherlands in the fast-growing European Edtech sector, how far the ecosystem has evolved and how to develop it further.
We caught up with Peter van Sabben, co-founder of Dutch Edtech to better understand this thriving ecosystem and explore the key insights unveiled by the report.
Key takeaways from the State of the Dutch Edtech Ecosystem 2021
- The Netherlands has 406 Edtech startups with a combined value of €800M.
- In total €110M of venture capital has been raised since 2016, where Amsterdam-based edtech startups account for 79 per cent. So far, €52M has been invested in Dutch edtech startups in 2021.
- The Netherlands ranks #10 in Europe by funding and #7 by total valuation. However, VC investment has been growing at 90 per cent CAGR since 2016.
- Amsterdam ranks #5 in Europe in terms of number of funding rounds in Edtech.
- Most funded Edtech startups in the Netherlands are – StuDocu (€47M), StudyTube (€13M), GrowthTribe (€8M), Wizenoze (€7.9M), Studyportals (€5.3M).
Curious to know more about the report? You can download it here.
Edtech in the Netherlands
According to the report, in the Netherlands, with more than 400 Edtech startups, this relatively young sector has grown over 90 per cent in the last five years.
According to van Sabben, co-founder of Dutch Edtech, the majority of growth in the Dutch Edtech sector was because of the pandemic-driven digital transformation.
“Some Edtech founders say that in the last pandemic-driven digital transformation year we accelerated more than 3 years of development of the Edtech sector than we did in the last 10 years. It’s still young but the sector will grow enormously. In Europe, we have seen a 7.4x growth based on Edtech VC investments from H1 2020 compared to H1 2021, and already €1.1B (till Sep). The entire Edtech sector is accelerating quickly,” says van Sabben.
Since 2016, Edtech startups have jointly raised more than €110M of venture capital at a value of more than €800M.
“79 per cent of all Edtech investments are Amsterdam-based,” says Sabben.
Previously, the vast majority of Edtech startups struggled to secure funding. However, investor interest has peaked lately.
Talking about it, Sabben notes, “It was maybe hard in the past to show investors true validated data on how to make money, or show who the true buyer is for your product, or what is your business model, etc. But the sector is growing, it’s still young, but it will be massive in the future. You see the first success stories like Squla, Goodhabitz, or StuDocu. And the first Edtech unicorns are born in Europe with GoStudent in Germany for example and this will also happen in the Netherlands.”
According to Dutch Edtech, there are 11 segments within Edtech. As per their report, Upskilling (Bootcamps) leads in terms of a number of startups, but Digital learning environment startups have received the most funding.
On B2B and B2C models
In the Edtech industry, B2B firms are often overshadowed by B2C Edtech firms, but the former still hold equal importance in the entire ecosystem.
Sharing his thoughts on the Dutch B2B Edtech market and its scope, Sabben says, “You have the big international Edtech platforms that everyone knows like Udemy or Coursera. And we have some successful Dutch B2C Edtech startups like Squla and Studocu. But many growing Dutch Edtech companies have a model on both B2C and/or B2B or only B2B and selling to education institutes or corporates.”
He continues, “I think we have seen the first phase in Edtech with MOOC platforms and e-learning. Now we see better and new models that have more impact and can show true behavioural change both for the B2C side, but especially for the B2B side. Many industry reports show that millions of people need to be upskilled and reskilled, and these models are mostly B2B Edtech models.”
Amsterdam ranks #5 in Europe in terms of the number of funding rounds in Edtech. Startups in the city like StuDocu, Wizenoze, and LoCoMoGo have played a crucial role in shaping up the Edtech sector, especially during the pandemic.
Talking about Amsterdam’s contribution to the growth of the Dutch Edtech sector, Sabben says, “StartupAmsterdam has been a supporting partner to take the first steps in building an Edtech ecosystem by supporting the Dutch Edtech foundation and making valuable connections with the national government and with Marineterrein Amsterdam – which is growing in a physical Edtech hub with more than 12 Edtech companies working on the future of learning.”
“More collaboration and more attention are necessary to boost this ecosystem, from the local government, the national government, and the other stakeholders in this ecosystem,” he adds.
Despite the fast-paced growth and an increase in the adoption of technologies in the field of education, the Edtech industry still faces significant challenges. However, the challenges can be resolved, says Sabben as he lists out five points. They are:
- More attention around Edtech, a.k.a, educate the market.
- More collaboration between public and private organisations.
- Help with accreditation for private digital educators/academies to supply the entire tech ecosystem with more talent.
- Dedicated budget from the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and Ministry of Economic Affairs.
- Create a blueprint for Edtech companies to work with higher education institutions for a ‘Sovereign public and private innovation partnership.
Innovation in Edtech
The technical intervention in the education sector is eventually changing the paradigm of learning and development. However, implementing innovation is a highly contentious issue.
Addressing scepticism among educators regarding the implementation of innovations, Sabben says, “Misconception and a myth are that Edtech is not scalable. Which is wrong and not true. You see the examples now around us and the first European Edtech unicorns are a fact. It’s just a question about timing not about scalability. We only need to make sure we educate the government and make sure educators will join and participate in this growing sector, otherwise you get a parallel ecosystem, and Edtech startups will go around the system.”
He adds, “Edtech and educators have a responsibility here. We need to work together in order to create high-quality solutions and especially in K12 software that keeps the public values in mind. Instead of creating two separate ecosystems, we need to bring the developers closer to the teachers.”
He continues, “For a smooth transition and making sure we don’t leave anybody behind, it’s all about adaptability and learning, unlearning and relearning and Edtech is a fundamental part to make this happen.”
Edtech sector in five years from now
The Edtech sector has witnessed a massive surge lately and is expected to grow in the future as well.
Predicting the Dutch Edtech scene five years from now, Sabben concludes, “A more mature ecosystem with Edtech companies and more success stories for both B2C and mainly B2B Edtech companies. More collaboration with the government to boost a local Edtech innovation ecosystem that works together with public education institutes.”
Addressing skill gap and talent shortages
As potential skill-shortage looms, numerous companies, educational institutes are using multiple tactics to close gaps and shortages. One such solution is Edtech.
Igneta Skliaustyte, Talent & Diversity Lead, StartupAmsterdam, says, “Edtech is a rather new movement that offers a disruptive approach to learning. And while it is a bit early to measure its impact on the overall talent ecosystem, I have already recognised a huge shift in mindset around Edtech, and that’s a major step. Edtech adapts fast to the needs of the market, from teaching “the skills of tomorrow” to offering solutions for people regardless of their age, gender, income or capabilities.”
She continues, “The pandemic has forced us to explore alternative ways of learning: more and more people reskill themselves via intensive IT bootcamps, parents incorporate gamified apps in their home-schooling, companies prioritize skills instead of a diploma-based recruiting, and universities make partnerships with personalized learning and testing sessions to meet the expectations of their increasingly digitally minded students.”
Bridge the gap between academia and the industry
An ideal partnership between industry and academia has the potential to boost a country’s economy whilst ensuring their own growth. When institutions and industries come together, they will find common grounds to meet each other’s requirements and create sustainable and substantial results.
Skliaustyte says, “First of all, both parties must understand the importance of their role in talent development. Secondly, we should acknowledge the power of working together. Traditional education does not have enough capacity to fulfill the labor market needs – the “war for talent” is a real issue. Since I joined 3 years ago, the ecosystem has improved a lot, however, we could do more… Companies could be proactive in partnering with the local talent development initiatives or setting up in-house reskilling and upskilling programs. Educational institutions could work more with innovative tech companies, not only for digital solutions but also advising their interns and graduates to pursue careers at prosperous startups and scaleups.
She concludes, “And we, StartupAmsterdam, are there to respond to the needs of the ecosystem by building awareness, initiating impactful projects, and creating the right climate for these two parties to better find each other. We also encourage companies and academia to collaborate with us by leveraging existing initiatives or helping us find new concepts. I believe we can achieve much more if we work with each other.”