Scaling European Edtech

I recently came across this interesting report from Navitas Ventures – Global Edtech Ecosystems 1.0: Connecting the World of Education Technology.  Navitas analysed 20 cities with leading edtech ecosystems representing about 40% of global edtech.  Beijing, the Bay Area and New York are top of the class, with Boston, London and Shanghai challenging.  They also assessed a further 14 emerging ecosystems at different states of maturity.  It’s clear that edtech is thriving across the globe!

Scale is essential to success in digital and you can see that in edtech too, with the predominance of China and the USA.  In addition, given the demography and emerging status of the edtech ecosystems in India and Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s likely that together these four regions will give birth to a generation of edtech giants.  Edtech could significantly improve the life chances of hundreds of millions of people in these regions by increasing access, participation and engagement in education.  It’s a powerful promise!


Source: HolonIQ

What about Europe?

Europe has some natural advantages in the edtech space.  We are home to many world-class education systems such as Finland. There’s a rich start-up scene in a number of European cities with London leading (but will Brexit make us BETT-sick?). Paris, Stockholm, Berlin, Helsinki and Amsterdam are vibrant and promising too, in fact there are more than 3000 edtech ventures across Europe today. Furthermore, there is significant and reliable spending on education through governments and ready access to venture and growth funding privately.

However, we lack scale

A lack of scale probably results in us under-serving our own customers.  It restricts our ability to expand to international markets. And it potentially exposes us to competitors grown in the big markets.  A lack of scale is restricting our potential.

European Champions

To address this, I think we need to create a European edtech network with strong go-to-market capabilities so we can effectively scale successful concepts across the continent.  I believe this network would be well served if it includes a handful of Champions to acts as magnets to talent, ideas and capital.

Learning organisation

I am interested in your ideas about how we could bring more scale to European edtech and what you think about the idea of building a European network with Champions.  How could we make that happen?  I’m also curious to learn from some of the challenger and emerging edtech ecosystems: how are they approaching this, what’s working and what’s not?  Learning is in our DNA, we need to put those skills to work if we are to bring this potential to life.

2 thoughts on “Scaling European Edtech

  1. Jeroen (Jeremy) Fransen (@jeroenjeremy)

    Your idea of a European Champions’ League for edtech is very appealing, but we first need a pathway for startups to get to that level. As they operate in a tremendously diversified EU market, many promising companies now choose to go to large unified markets outside Europe (India, China, US) once they outgrow their home market.
    Therefore, I think that for European startups to be able to scale within Europe, we will also need a network of edtech accelerators with *really deeply* knowledge and understanding of *all* the different markets so their startups can learn about them. This will help scalable propositions to decide which markets to enter and how, as well as to localise and create a good product/market match. Add a pinch of money and you might stand a chance.

    1. johnrichardmartin Post author

      Hi Jeroen, yes it’s indeed very tempting to try to break into one of the big three international markets once you’re well on the way locally. The numbers are also literally of the order of 100x the local opportunity in Europe. On the other hand, it’s also significantly harder for say a Dutch edtech venture to gain a serious position in China than it is in Belgium or Germany. I agree with you that we need to look differently at each stage in the growth cycle.


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