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
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: scalability, flexibility, and alignment with industry demands. The traditional system, spanning over two centuries, lacks the scalability required to meet the escalating demand for education, especially with the ambitious goal of doubling university enrolments in a decade. The system's rigidity fails to accommodate the needs of the majority of learners outside the conventional full-time, residential model, and an inherent misalignment with industry needs contributes to a disparity between skilled talent and available high-skilled job opportunities. These concerns underscore the imperative for a transformative shift in education.
In response to these challenges, Emerge Education pioneers a vision of "engines of opportunity" – emerging companies leveraging innovation and technology to bridge the gap between those seeking skill acquisition and industries in need of proficient workers. These engines operate as intermediaries, democratising access to advanced skills and meaningful employment by connecting education providers, learners, and employers. Emerge has strategically identified six thematic areas, categorised as enablers and disruptors, to cultivate and nurture these engines. 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 49 investments and an active portfolio of 37 companies, Emerge Education demonstrates a strong commitment to the future of education and technology. The fund typically engages in rounds with an average size of $3 million, positioning itself as a significant player in the early stages of a startup's growth. It has a balanced approach to investment, participating both as a lead investor and in follow-on rounds, with a follow-on index of 0.24 and four lead investments to its name.
Emerge Education's investment strategy is characterized by its preference for rounds involving 2-3 participants, showcasing its collaborative approach within the investment community. It 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 Education's portfolio is a testament to its mission of driving innovation in the education sector. Among its notable investments are:
Algor Lab: A startup focused on Artificial Intelligence and Primary Education in Italy, secured $1 million in funding, highlighting Emerge Education's commitment to advancing educational technologies globally. The company utilises an algorithm to produce learning maps from scanned documents.
Tomorrow's Education: Based in Berlin, Germany, this E-Learning platform raised $10 million, showcasing Emerge's capability to support scalable solutions in education. Tomorrow University provides a digital first learning platform that upskills business and tech leaders. It provides a wide variety of courses, including courses on responsible entrepreneurship and sustainable technologies.
Edurino: Another significant investment in the EdTech sector, Edurino raised $12 million to enhance children's learning experiences through digital platforms in Munich, Germany. Edurino specialises in providing digital learning experiences and games for young children. It provides physical figurines that interact with the Edurino app, where children can play educational games and activities.
Colossyan: With a $5 million investment, this company is revolutionizing Media and Entertainment through Video Editing technology, underlining Emerge's diverse interest within tech-enabled educational content. The company provides an ai video creator, which can generate videos from text. The service specialises in creating learning content from text and can provide auto translation as well as specific learning templates.
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.
At the forefront of the education technology and workforce development revolution is Emerge Education, 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 Education is dedicated to transforming education into a more accessible, scalable, and industry-aligned system.
Jan Lynn-Matern: From Immigrant Roots to Educational Innovator
The journey of Jan Lynn-Matern, the founder and partner at Emerge Education, highlights the transformative power of education. Born to immigrant parents, his personal and professional life was shaped by the belief that education is the ultimate key to overcoming adversity and achieving success. This belief guided him to found Emerge Education, 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: Operational Expertise in Edtech Innovation
Joining Jan in his venture is Nic Newman, a partner at Emerge Education with a wealth of experience in tech entrepreneurship. Having co-founded and exited TigerSpike, Nic brings operational expertise and experience in scaling businesses to the table. His role involves mentoring portfolio companies, offering strategic advice, and helping navigate the challenges of growing edtech startups.
Mario Barosevcic: Empowering Through Accessible Education
Partner Mario Barosevcic's personal journey from Bosnia to the US on a university scholarship underscores his commitment to empowering individuals through education. 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: Cultivating a Community of Innovators
As the head of the platform, Zara Zaman is instrumental in fostering a vibrant community of edtech innovators. 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: Steering Higher Education and Workforce Development
Mary Curnock Cook, the network chair passionate about higher education, brings her extensive experience as the former CEO of UCAS to Emerge Education. 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 Education team drive its mission forward. From Jan Lynn-Matern's strategic disruption to Nic Newman's operational guidance, Mario Barosevcic's dedication to accessible education, Zara Zaman's community-building efforts, Mary Curnock Cook's higher education innovation, to Don Taylor's focus on workforce development, each member contributes uniquely to transforming the landscape of education and work.
Together, they represent the essence of Emerge Education's mission: to invest in startups that are not just profit-driven but are making a significant societal impact by transforming education and enabling lifelong learning and development. This commitment positions Emerge Education 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.