Pearson is committing $50M to fund next-gen edtech startups

Pearson, the British education conglomerate, has set aside $50 million to participate in Series A and Series B financings for education startups, including boot camps, next-gen assessment and credentialing platforms, learning tools and augmented reality technology.

“Because education will look very different in 2030, Pearson, like learners all over the world, will need to continue to learn, adapt and reinvent itself: finding new business models, incorporating emerging technologies into its products and services, and finding new ways to collaborate with education institutions, government, and businesses,” the company wrote in a statement announcing Pearson Ventures.

To keep up with the emerging technologies changing the future of education, Pearson Ventures will back up to five companies per year over the next three years. Pearson’s investment director Owen Henkel tells TechCrunch the team will not lead rounds, purchase large stakes in startups or dictate terms. Pearson Ventures will instead only co-invest alongside experienced institutional investors.

Henkel adds that Pearson Ventures will not operate as an acquisition pipeline.

“The only reason this is worth Pearson’s time is if we can learn important things about markets that are important to us,” Henkel told TechCrunch. “It’s about keeping Pearson’s ear to the ground in relevant markets and verticals. If we don’t have the knowledge of the space, we won’t know where it’s going.”

Pearson will look for potential investments all over the world. In addition to providing capital, it will connect its portfolio companies with its in-house experts in content, product design, business development and market expansion. Pearson Ventures is the latest iteration of Pearson’s Affordable Learning Fund, which has spent $20 million to date on equity stakes in various education companies.

“For us, it’s about learning, not about staking our flag in something we want to buy later,” Henkel said. “We are being really intentional in explaining why we’d be a good partner to startups and why you’d want to have us on your team.”