Edtech innovators urged to bid for DfE money

Firms could get up to £100,000 each to develop edtech products to tackle key challenges, including timetabling and parental engagement

Edtech companies have been given six weeks to bid for grants.

Edtech innovators have been invited to apply for a share of £4.6 million to develop products to help with essay marking and parental engagement.

The funding, part of £10 million the Department for Education allocated to the edtech strategy it launched in April, aims to stimulate industry innovation and support the development of edtech products.

Companies have been given six weeks to apply for up to £100,000 from the edtech innovation fund to improve, evaluate and grow the reach of digital tools across four of the 10 ‘challenge areas’ announced in the strategy: formative assessment, essay marking, parental engagement and timetabling.

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DfE minister Chris Skidmore said technology can be “one of the single most important elements in any school”, and added: “I would like edtech companies to step forward with bold, innovative proposals that will make a real difference to the lives of students and teachers.”

The government is working with Nesta, an innovation foundation, to deliver the £4.6 million of investment.

The programme aims to test and scale edtech products, both new and existing, that could have the biggest impact.

The grants, which will be given to up to 20 organisations, are to provide support with improving and testing products that are at an early stage, helping products to expand their reach to more schools, and building evidence about what works in the four challenge areas.

A second stage of the programme will match participating schools to edtech products that are aligned to their needs, allowing them to trial the technology for free and help evaluate its impact.

Joysy John, director of education at Nesta, said: “Nesta has a long history of supporting technology in education through investments, research and policy.

“By working in partnership with the Department for Education, we hope to have a greater impact on the education system and the edtech sector.

“We aim to improve teaching and learning, bring more efficiencies to schools and colleges, save teacher time, and ultimately improve student outcomes.”

The call for companies to take part in the project came as the DfE convened the first meeting of its edtech leadership group, which aims to get industry, government and the education sector to work together more closely.

It is led by Lord Chris Holmes, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Assistive Technology, who won a total of nine Paralympic gold medals for swimming.

The edtech leadership group includes figures from Microsoft, Apple and Google, as well as representatives from Ofsted, academy trusts and education unions.

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