UK EdTech sector grew by 72% in 2020

  • The UK’s edtech (education technology) sector grew by 71.5% in 2020, according to a report by global recruiter Robert Walters.

    Due to lockdown measures and mandatory school closures last year, this puts the UK edtech market at almost £3.5bn.

    Pre-coronavirus, the edtech exports were thought to have brought in £170m to the economy and that figure is now expected to have topped £292m.

    Tom Chambers, Senior Technology Manager at Robert Walters said: “In the UK, the edtech market is still very much in its infancy – whilst a surge in demand was forecast for 2020, the reality exceeded all expectations due to the impact of Covid-19 and the need to continue education remotely, whilst simultaneously breaking down the barriers that prevent marginalised groups from accessing it.

    “The requirement for both online courses and virtual classes as permanent academic fixtures will dramatically increase the scale of the sector over the next 12 months.”

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    David Roberts, CEO of edtech KidsLoop commented: “Unlike many other sectors, the pandemic acted as a ‘hyper accelerator’ for the edtech market. Overnight educational institutions were expected to take their classroom delivery entirely remote, with technology being the only enabler of this.

    “In the UK, the biggest barrier to the uptake of edtech to date has primarily been around the cost and time associated with teacher retraining. However, during lockdown teachers had no choice but to become accustomed to edtech tools and by and large learnt on-the-job.

    “On the whole, the UK is early on in its journey of embedding technology into its education system – but now that the doors have been opened, we move increasingly closer to hybrid classrooms with the help of optimised learning platforms.”

    There are currently 600 edtech firms based in the UK – representing just 5% of all tech companies in the country. Despite this, overall vacancies in the sector grew by 56% in 2020 - compared to a 40% increase in vacancies across all other tech sectors in the UK.

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    Whilst within the UK and Europe there are yet to be any edtech unicorns (companies valued at over $1bn) – with almost all unicorns based in the USA and China - the tide does seem to be turning.

    The UK attracts almost half of all edtech investment coming into Europe.

    The Robert Walters report identifies augmented reality (AR) as one of the key driving forces of the UK edtech market.

    AR enhances the real-world environment with text, sound effects, graphics, and multimedia, with the value of global edtech AR predicted to surpass $5.3bn by 2023.

    Digital Classrooms – those that almost wholly reliant on electronic devices and software – grew by 65% last year, and Software as a Service (SaaS) by 57% - a software distribution model where the application is hosted by a vendor/service provider and made available to customers over the internet – such as Google, Amazon and Netflix.

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    Download a copy of Edtech: The Hyper-Accelerator report.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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