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NZ a world hot spot for education technology - US investor

19 May, 2014

NZ a world hot spot for education technology, says US investor

New Zealand is an entrepreneurial hotspot for the rocketing sector of education technology, says Jennifer Carolan, Head of NewSchools Seed Fund in California, who is coming to Wellington to speak at the national EdTech for Export 2014 (eT4e) conference shortly.

Ms Carolan’s Californian organisation, NewSchools Seed Fund, has been evaluating several New Zealand companies with a view to investment opportunities. NewSchools works to improve education opportunities for children from low-income communities by investing in entrepreneurs who are developing education technology tools, applications and content.

Ms Carolan says that New Zealand has a number of growing companies who are developing a diverse range of learning-focused products including games, apps, educational software and courseware for the EdTech industry.

“I can’t wait to get to Wellington to meet the EdTech community, learn from the entrepreneurs and understand how we can help,” says Ms Carolan. “I’ve also heard wonderful things about New Zealand’s thriving tech scene from my former colleague Ben Riley (a White House fellow) who is working on EdTech and innovation,” says Ms Carolan.

The investment fund head says there are huge challenges facing teachers and education companies globally. “Teachers are rapidly adopting technology products but need more sophisticated technology tools and content. EdTech companies need funding, support and better channels into schools.”

The national EdTech event runs on June 19 and 20 and is organised by Grow Wellington and Education New Zealand. It aims to connect the education sector with tech businesses to ensure New Zealand enjoys growth in this sector – now worth $86 billion globally and forecast to grow to $257 billion by 2017.

Tickets are still available for the conference which will examine business growth and global opportunities for both local companies and individuals in the sector and include New Zealand speakers, workshops and showcases.

Besides Ms Carolan, eT4e 2014 will feature international speakers including Jan Zawadzki the founder of Hapara, a company which has already attracted investment from NewSchools from its work in New Zealand. Also attending will be Lee Wilson, the CEO of Wisconsin-based Filament Games, and Dr Erkki Sutinen, head of the edTech Research Group at the University of Eastern Finland. Speakers from New Zealand will include Dr Sue Watson, the founding CEO of Summit Education Asia Pacific, a division of the Commonwealth Education Trust, Noeline Anderson, director of digital publishing company Pixelhouse; Adrian Sallis from Vital English, Maru Nihoniho from Metia Interactive; Dave Moskovitz from WebFund, and Chris Meade, Head of Strategy at Designworks.

Further Information on eT4e 2014 go to: http://edtechforexport.co.nz/

Background on keynote speakers

Jan Zawadzki (California, US) is the founder of Hapara, an education technology company which used inspiration from teachers at Auckand's decile 1 Point England School to develop the company's flagship product, Teacher Dashboard. This has since been applied across the whole Google Apps suite and won the 2013 NYC Schools Gap App challenge. Teachers at Point England school now use e-learning to transform the lives of children from low income areas.

Dr Erkki Sutinen (Finland) is professor of computer science at the University of Eastern Finland and the head of the edTech Research Group. He has been designing innovative education approaches in developing countries and for special education. He is an honorary research fellow for Massey University. He is also an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

Lee Wilson (Wisconsin, US) became the CEO of Filament Games in 2013. He has an extensive background in education technology and has had executive stints at companies including Apple and PCI Education. He is an expert on education business, market strategy and global market trends. He is also a science-fiction fan and former professional banjo player.

Dr Sue Watson (NZ) is the founding CEO of Summit Education Asia Pacific, a division of the Commonwealth Education Trust. Sue has over two decades of experience in the education and business sectors, and uses her business and leadership skills to develop and invest in programmes and services for teachers and students in Commonwealth countries, with a focus on Asia and the Pacific.

eT4e 2014 is organised by Education New Zealand and Grow Wellington, the region’s economic development agency.

ENDS

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