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Investing in Education for the better with: Emerge



Edtech as a sector has had notable investors all over the globe, but one investor has been especially prominent in this arena, defining the future of education. Emerge.education has been funding the educators of the future and breathing technological life into our education systems.


Written by: Tanay Sonawane, Varshith Uppalapati and Jasper Wigley

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CORE INVESTMENT PHILOSOPHY


Emerge prioritises early-stage ventures, focusing on pre-seed and seed stages. Their core investment philosophy centres on democratising access to opportunity, grounded in personal experiences and a strong belief in education's transformative power.

 

Emerge identifies three core challenges in the current educational landscape: improving access, building bridges and advancing learning. In our rapidly transforming digital era, societal rifts widen as technological advancements disrupt industries and disproportionately benefit a select few, leaving our educational system lagging in providing equitable opportunities for success. Improving access to relevant educational opportunities for all is imperative. As the landscape of required skills shifts dramatically, our existing educational framework falls short in cultivating the necessary talent, resulting in a significant economic shortfall. Our educational system is not in sync with the labour market. It is crucial to build bridges between education and work to solve this. Given the swift and profound changes ushered in by our globally connected, tech-centric environment, it's imperative for our educational system to equip people with the means for ongoing self-renewal amidst constant uncertainty. Yet, it currently falls short. Advance learning to enable this is critical.

 

In response to these challenges, Emerge sees AI as the next big opportunity for edtech, adding the “human touch” back into edtech. AI allows us to scale high quality pedagogy, personalised learning support - things that in the past, only humans could do. The fund is excited about the move from high scale, low efficacy edtech to AI-enabled high scale, high efficacy edtech that will enable us to democratise access to opportunity. They are also optimistic about AI’s potential to address parts of the market that we were never able to address, such as providing better study support to those who can’t afford 1:1 tutoring, identifying skills and potential based on people’s output rather than their CVs and enabling educators to spend more time building relationships with learners. 


Emerge analysed 700 projects that apply AI to education problems and have categorised them into eight sub-trends:


Roboteachers: 2-way conversational interfaces that replace expensive 1:1 teaching, across academic studies, work, self improvement & language learning


Simulation based learning: Taking simulation-based learning to the next level by making it fully interactive, unlocking “flight simulator for interpersonal skills”


Hyper personalised content: The next generation of edutainment, providing highly personalised learning experiences to kids and casual learners 


Always-on feedback: Providing personalised in-the-flow-of-work feedback based on observed behaviour (work product, interactions) like no manager could


Democratised authorship: Giving learners the power to create and manipulate learning materials to suit their needs


Educator co-pilots: Tools that enable learning designers and educators to create learning materials and manage learners, at scale


AI-enabled knowledge graphs: Enabling individuals and organisations to capture unstructured data, dynamically categorise it, and handle complex retrieval queries


Automated assessment: Improving the accuracy and cost efficiency of assessment processes across academic studies, and hiring and career progression.


The fund's disruptive investments, including online vocational schools, challenger universities, and personalised workforce training, are complemented by enablers focusing on employer-university collaboration, scalable teaching operating systems, and support for universities entering new markets. In essence, Emerge's core investment philosophy aims not only to invest but to pioneer a transformative future in edtech, where education becomes a gateway to equal opportunities for all.



Portfolio and Investment Strategy


With a total of 83 investments, Emerge demonstrates a strong commitment to the future of education and technology. The fund typically engages in rounds with an average ticket size of  £350k to £2m, positioning itself as a significant player in the early stages of a startup's growth.


Emerge often co-invests with notable entities like NXT Ventures, Learn Capital, and Y Combinator, among others. This collaborative approach allows for diversifying in risk and value add and enhances the growth potential of its portfolio companies by leveraging the expertise and networks of its co-investors.




Impactful Ventures and Key Achievements


Emerge's portfolio is a testament to its mission of driving innovation in the education sector. Among its notable investments are:






Algor Lab: Italy-based AI-powered Algor, secured €1.4 million in funding, highlighting Emerge's commitment to advancing educational technologies globally. Algor is a study platform that transforms text, audio files and images into concept maps to enable students to get a quick grasp of a subject before diving in. Algor is a gen-AI powered tool for creating concept maps from any document. The company utilises an algorithm to produce learning maps from scanned documents.





Tomorrow University of Applied Sciences: Based in Berlin, Germany, this E-Learning platform raised a $10 million Series A in 2023, showcasing Emerge's capability to support scalable solutions in education. The remote-first university allows learners to build the 21st-century skills needed in the areas of sustainability, entrepreneurship, and technology.




Edurino: Another significant investment in the EdTech sector, Munich-based Edurino raised a €10.5M Series A in 2023. Edurino makes digital education tangible with an adaptive learning app, real figurines and an ergonomic stylus. Learning experiences adapt to each child's individual speed and parents are provided with full transparency.




Colossyan: With a $22 million Series A investment announced this year, Colossyan enables users to create Learning and Development videos from text using Artificial Intelligence. Colossyan sidesteps the traditional video creation process, removing the need for cameras, studios, and conventional actors. Their approach cuts down the time necessary to create videos from weeks to minutes.



Mattilda: A FinTech venture from Mexico City, received $10 million to merge finance and educational accessibility, demonstrating Emerge's broad investment thesis beyond traditional education models. Mattilda provides a financial management platform for schools, centralising their spending and financing monitoring. Furthermore the company extends credit to schools, and allows them to access flexible financing easily.


THE TEAM

 

At the forefront of the education technology and workforce development revolution is Emerge, a venture capital fund with a mission to seed early-stage startups that promise to disrupt and enhance the education sector. Under the leadership of Jan Lynn-Matern, Nic Newman, and supported by a team of exceptional individuals, Emerge is dedicated to transforming education into a more accessible, scalable, and industry-aligned system.

 

Jan Lynn-Matern: GP





 

The journey of Jan Lynn-Matern, the founder and partner at Emerge, highlights the transformative power of education. The child of immigrants, his parents left the Soviet Union in 1979, arriving in Germany with nothing but their suitcases and hope for a better life. Growing up in a household focused on hard work and learning, he was lucky enough to gain a scholarship to study at Oxford University. There, he got access to career opportunities my parents could only have dreamed of. This guided him to found Emerge, where he leverages his insights to drive significant disruption in the traditional education system, envisioning a future where education is more relevant and aligned with the rapidly changing demands of the global workforce.


 

Nic Newman: GP




 

Joining Jan in his venture is Nic Newman, a partner at Emerge with a wealth of experience in tech entrepreneurship. Nic is a first-generation university student raised in a working-class family where there was one focus: hard work. When he was 16, a teacher at his school made it possible for him to apply to university – and his experiences at Durham University completely changed his life trajectory, ultimately leading to the successful sale of Tigerspike, the company he co-founded, to an S&P250 called Concentrix. Nic brings operational expertise and experience in scaling businesses to the table. His role involves investing, mentoring portfolio companies, offering strategic advice, and helping navigate the challenges of growing edtech startups.

 


Mario Barosevcic: Partner

 



Partner Mario Barosevcic grew up as a refugee in England and then in his native, war-torn Bosnia. There, his grandfather instilled a love for learning and thirst for knowledge, resulting in a life-changing scholarship to study at Harvard. At Emerge, he dedicates his career to supporting solutions that make education accessible to all, thereby enabling individuals to realize their full potential.


 

Zara Zaman: Head of Platform



As the child of Pakistani immigrants whose lives were completely transformed by scholarships, Zara Zaman witnessed first-hand the generational impact of access to education. As Head of Platform, Zara runs Emerge’s network of Venture Partners who support the portfolio; a dream team of 100+ experienced founders and senior executives from leading edtech companies, including Degreed, Coursera, Andela, Udemy, Trilogy, OpenClassrooms, Busuu, Beamery, Chegg, 2U, and Kahoot!. With prior experience co-founding a pan-European university accelerator, Zara's expertise lies in building ecosystems that support the growth and success of early-stage ventures in the education sector.

 

Mary Curnock Cook and Don Taylor: Network Chair

 




Mary Curnock Cook, the network chair passionate about higher education, brings her extensive experience as the former CEO of UCAS to Emerge. She convenes her network to promote innovation in higher education, supporting startups that are reimagining the future of higher learning.




 

Don Taylor, another network chair, focuses on advancing workforce development. His experience chairing the Learning Technologies Conference and producing the L&D Global Sentiment Survey equips him with the insights to support startups developing impactful learning and development solutions for the workforce.

 

Uniting for a Common Goal

 

The collective expertise, experience, and vision of the Emerge team drive its mission forward. Together, they represent the essence of Emerge's mission: to invest in startups that are not just profit-driven but are democratising access to opportunity by transforming education and enabling lifelong learning and development. This commitment positions Emerge at the heart of the movement toward a more equitable, effective, and future-ready education system.





Edtech is certainly a popular space to invest in, but the number of firms that specialise exclusively on it is small. Emerge has carved out its own success in edtech, and is taking the sector further than ever before. Its diverse and experienced team is something to be envied, and where they go next can only bring even more speed to an already fast moving space.



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