London has set its sights on becoming a world leader in ‘edtech’, capitalising on the growth in the education technology sector.

A new strategic body, Edtech UK, has been launched to promote the sector, with a new report by London & Partners and Edtech UK claiming the global education technology sector – currently worth £45bn in 2015 – is set be worth £129bn by 2020.

Incubated by The Education Foundation, Edtech UK comprises 25 founding members within startups, scale ups and global companies across the teaching, training, digital making, e-learning, tutoring, digital skills, sectors, among others. It will provide a single point of access to key industry influencers, education institutions, technologies, talent, finance and international marketplaces.

Ian Fordham, CEO of EdTech UK, said: “Edtech has come of age. The UK is home to some of the world’s leading schools, colleges, universities and education businesses. Edtech UK will be a pro-active organisation building and accelerating a vibrant education and learning technology sector and leading new developments with our founding partners. It will also be a front door to government, educators, companies and investors from Britain and globally.” 

The sector is on a par with fintech as one of the fastest growing areas of the digital economy, accounting for 4 per cent of all digital businesses. The UK boasts more than 1,000 edtech start-ups across the country, with more than 200 based in London. London is uniquely placed to take advantage of the Edtech opportunity, with the recent Times Higher Education World University 2015 rankings showing that London has more world-class universities than any other city in the world (four out of the top 30). London’s booming tech sector and high concentration of tech talent will also drive new innovation in the field, with London home to more than 71,000 professional developers, greater than any other European city. The capital is also home to established EdTech companies such as Pearson, Knewton and Kaplan, while successful London-based EdTech startups include Futurelearn, the UK’s first MOOC (massive open online courses) platform, and Showmyhomework which provides a cloud-based platform for setting and tracking homework.

In the UK, schools spend more than £900 million a year on education technology and UK education exports total £17.5 billion a year. With the introduction of the computing curriculum into every school in England, the UK has positioned itself at the forefront of developments in the creation and use of education learning and technology. London is already at the forefront of knowledge exchange and thought leadership on the edtech front, as host of BETT – the largest edtech conference in the world. The 2016 event will take place 20-23 January at Excel London.

David Slater, Director of International Trade and Investment at London & Partners, said: “From fintech to adtech, London is home to a range of high growth companies that are applying technology to disrupt and enhance traditional industries. Nowhere is the potential of technology to transform a sector more profound than education learning, and nowhere can it be more valuable by enabling London to develop its skills base to meet the future demands of business. With a diverse talent pool and some of the best educational institutions in the world, there is arguably no greater city in the world to start and grow an Edtech business.”

EdTech UK will build on the success of organisations Innovate Finance in the financial technology (fintech) sector and MedCity in the medical technology (medtech) sector, in accelerating these sectors within London’s knowledge economy.

Lord Maude, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, added: “We recognise the importance of edtech to ensure the UK is at the forefront of technology and innovation and to secure sustainable economic growth.”