Nordic EdTech News #84: 2023-03-06
Your Weeks 8 - 9 update from the Nordic and Baltic EdTech ecosystem
Nordic EdTech News will be at BETT in London between 29th and 31st March. I’d love to catch up with Nordic EdTech businesses and connections during the show. If you’d like to meet, hit me up via email to arrange a time. Look forward to seeing you there!
Hello and welcome to today’s Nordic EdTech News. It’s great to see over 50 new subscribers joining our community in the last 2 weeks - thanks for your support and I’d love to hear your feedback.
I suspect many signed up after my recent comments on the debate over digital technology in Nordic schools were widely shared on social media. That subject also leads the agenda for this week’s update with Swedish Education Minister, Lotta Edholm, announcing last week that “Sweden's students need more textbooks.” She continued: “The government is now making it possible for schools to buy more books in order to strive towards the principle of one textbook per student and subject.”
This will be achieved through grant funding of SEK 685 million which schools can apply for. That amounts to SEK 500 per student in year 1, dropping to SEK 365 per student per year after that.
Importantly, the grants are for “learning materials” but they clearly prioritise printed resources: the money can be used for “textbooks with or without digital components.” The Swedish Edtech Industry has criticised the plans, emphasising the importance of digital materials in building 21st Century skills and increasing access to learning. As CEO Jannie Jeppesen puts it: “Teachers should not be forced to choose between textbooks or digital learning materials. Both are needed and complement each other.”
This response echoes recent interventions in Denmark (Link, Link). But these pieces hint at a more interesting / relevant debate that I believe is now gaining traction. The focus to date has been about the presence or number of screens / phones in the classrooms, but surely it should be about the quality of learning and teaching that they facilitate? These articles from Denmark and Norway pick up the theme, which I’ll be following in future issues of this newsletter.
Despite this market uncertainty, four of Nordic EdTech’s leading businesses have announced full year numbers for 2022 that emphasise the popularity of and role for digital learning content. It’s also a clear indication of the Nordic market’s increasing maturity that more business are now making these investor filings.
Sweden’s Albert confirmed that:
ARR for Jan - Dec 2022 had increased by 73% to SEK 154.7 million (89.6 in 2021). 30% of which related to organic growth and 43% was driven by acquisitions.
However EBITA worsened to SEK -78.8 million from -57.1 million. The founders have therefore reiterated their plans to “prioritise the journey to profitability and optimise towards our existing cash register to get us there.”
In their FY report, there’s a clear focus on cost and revenue synergies across the group, so it’s great to see that already happening in this example with Strawbees.
Sanoma Learning’s FY 2022 figures showed that:
Net sales of the division grew to EUR 681 million (2021: 637). The acquired Pearson businesses from Italy and Germany made a EUR 37 million contribution to that total between September and December.
The Finnish learning business grew by 4% in FY 2022 to EUR 59.7 million from 57.5 million in 2021. Other Nordic businesses are not broken out in the reporting.
Shape Robotics reported that FY 2022:
Resulted in year-to-date revenues of DKK 87.4 million vs. DKK 17.8 million in 2021 - growth of 391%.
Importantly, EBITDA for 2022 hit DKK +0.3 million vs. DKK -15.5 million in 2021.
The expectation is for 50 - 60 % growth in 2023, leading CEO André Reinhard Fehrn to comment: "We have to rewrite our narrative because we are no longer a startup."
Skolon’s FY 2022 figures show similar exponential growth:
Net sales amounted to SEK 62.0 million, up from 36.7 million in 2021. That’s an increase of nearly 70%, all of which is organic growth.
EBITDA showed slightly widening losses from SEK -2.1 million to SEK -5.9 million.
The business now has 511,579 paying users - an increase of 23.1% from the end of Q4 2021.
Coverage of Q4 results from Kahoot! was included in NEN #83, but it’s notable to report that the business was ranked in the top 20 in the 2023 edition of The FT 1000: Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies. The business also came second in the IT and Software category.
If you’ve got a story that you’d like me to include in a future issue of this newsletter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, tag me on Twitter or LinkedIn or use #nordicedtech / #balticedtech. Sharing this email with your network is also always much appreciated!
Best regards, Jonathan
News from Denmark
Vejen Municipality's plans for online-led, teacherless hours are in breach of the primary school act in multiple areas. (Link)
Airtame has raised DKK 18.5 million from Denmark’s Export and Investment Fund and PreSeed Ventures to support their digital transformation and global expansion. (Link)
Peter Ulholm, Director of LearnLab, argues the case for technological understanding to be more prominent on the school curriculum. (Link)
Good to see Drama Studio gaining traction in the US. (Link)
News from Estonia
Lessons from the national Digital Accelerator training programme for teachers. (Link)
Cambridge University Press & Assessment and the Ministry of Education have renewed their agreement to deliver English language testing nationwide. (Link)
The kood/Jõhvi coding school has opened a new application round for up to 500 future developers. (Link)
How Triumf Health “is changing the world.” (Link)
News from Finland
Great to see how Annie’s SMS chatbot can engage and support large numbers of students. (Link)
Applications to join Batch 5 of the EdTech Incubator Helsinki will open on 3rd April. Full details here.
An amazing 2 billion answers have now been submitted on Eduten. (Link)
Funzi launches a new course focusing on lean management. (Link)
Seppo confirms a new partnership with Creaamo. Their resources offer “gamified training to review and leverage company values.” (Link)
xEdu develops ENTER EDTECH, a new incubator programme for EdTech startups. (Link)
News from Iceland
Academics and students at the University of Iceland have created a new app that uses flashcards to teach Icelandic vocabulary. (Link)
Mathieu Skulason, CEO and Co-Founder at Evolytes, pitched at StartEd's Shark Tank. (Link)
Positive launch for Orðalykill, the digital Icelandic reading and language learning resource from Mussila, as 10,000 users sign up in the first week. (Link)
News from Latvia
Riga City Council uses Minecraft to educate and engage young people in urban planning issues. (Link)
Teachers of Year 7 - 12 students are able to attend a “Day of Ideas” where an expert panel will help strengthen the use of technology in schools. (Link)
News from Lithuania
The EdTech Centre of the National Education Agency gives schools the chance to try new EdTech solutions. (Link)
BitDegree launched a new learn and earn course with Lighthouse. (Link)
Google.org issued a second grant of $800k to Women Go Tech to scale their mission of empowering women to reskill in IT and engineering. (Link)
Teachers Lead Tech land in the US with plans to deliver 5 school pilots during Spring 2023. (Link)
News from Norway
The Directorate of Education has published a set of CPD resources to help schools and teachers better understand and support the use of AI. (Link)
Interesting interview with Victor Botev, CTO and Co-founder of Iris.ai, who develop AI tools to assist academics, researchers and scientists. (Link)
Kahoot! launches in Danish (Link) and releases research showing that DragonBox Algebra 12+ helped students improve their maths performance during the COVID-19 pandemic (Link).
Pickatale includes Oxford University Press picture books for global school customers. (Link)
Scrimba have reached one million users and signed a deal to collaborate with Coursera. (Link)
News from Sweden
Good to see EdTech so well represented on Sweden’s Tech50 list. Congratulations to leaders from Atea, Öppna skolplattformen, Sana and Skolon. (Link)
AcadeMedia opens up its Omniway learning platform to all players in the Swedish adult education sector. (Link)
Swedish footballer, Alexander Isak, is confirmed as an investor in Dugga. (Link)
Fascinating to follow the progress of Hello History, a great use case of LLMs and Generative AI tools. (Link)
Learning platform startup, Lektionsakuten, raised SEK2.5M from Lunova and other angel investors. (Link)
Liber starts a new collaboration with Kattalo to support younger students as they learn to read and write. (Link)
Storyals have been selected to join Newchip Accelerator's Global Accelerator Programme to advance their global growth. (Link)
Thanks for reading this newsletter. If you think that your colleagues and wider network would find it useful, please share it with them!