The Varkey Foundation today launched the inaugural ‘Next Billion’ Edtech Prize to recognise the most innovative technology destined to have a radical impact on education in low income and emerging world countries.
This new prize will identify, spotlight and celebrate the world’s leading edtech startups that have shown through ingenuity and innovation that they can improve learning in parts of the world where there is limited access to good quality teaching.
According to UNESCO, 264 million children do not have access to schooling, while at least 600 million more are “in school but not learning”. These are children who are not achieving even basic skills in maths and reading, which the World Bank calls a “learning crisis”.
Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Next Billion Prize said ,
"Over a billion young people – a number growing every day - are being denied what should be the birthright of every single child in the 21st century, no matter where they live: a good education that allows them to make the most of their God-given talents.
“We have launched the ‘Next Billion Prize’ to highlight technology’s potential to tackle the problems that have proven too difficult for successive generations of politicians to solve. Our fervent hope is that the prize inspires practical and persistent entrepreneurs the world over to come forward with fresh tech ideas. These ideas must be hardy enough to improve education in regions where young people are denied access to a good quality teacher and a great learning environment”.
The prize, which comes five years after the Varkey Foundation founded the US $1 million Global Teacher Prize, will be awarded for the first time at the Global Education and Skills Fo§rum (GESF) 2018 taking place on the 17-18 March in Dubai. Widely referred to as the “Davos of Education”, the GESF, brings together over 2000 delegates from around the world to solve the big questions in global education.
Over 40 of the world’s most cutting edge ed-tech start ups, with a focus on low income and emerging economies, have been selected to pitch for the ‘Next Billion’ Prize at GESF 2018. They will pitch to an expert panel of judges, made up of venture capitalists, philanthropic investors, experts in ed tech and learning sciences, and senior education policy makers as well as a live audience of GESF delegates made up of leading education figures from public, private and social sectors.
Six finalists will be selected to return to the main GESF stage on Sunday morning for a final pitch in front of judges and a live audience. Three winners will selected, who will each be awarded $25,000 as well as the unique opportunity to pilot their technology in partner schools in Western Cape, South Africa,
The ‘Next Billion’ prize will be the focal point of Tomorrow , a new edtech summit taking place for the first time at the GESF. All the ed-tech starts ups pitching in the ‘Next Billion’ Prize will also have a “money can’t buy” opportunity to participate in:
- Ministerial Mentoring – an opportunity for the startups to have sessions with current and former Ministers to hear what they’re looking for from edtech as well as an opportunity for those in positions of power to directly learn how new technologies can make a difference to the classroom.
- Invest In Edtech – an opportunity for the startups to meet VCs and investors from Silicon Valley and beyond.
- Business Mentoring with Paperclip – session run byDeepak Madnani, founder of Hong Kong’s leading startup incubator. Sessions will focus on business model review; clarifying the value proposition; and customer development within the education sector.
- Foundation Consultation – an opportunity to meet some of the world’s leading foundations to discuss how they measure impact and their criteria for awarding funds;
- Mentoring in Learning Sciences – an opportunity for the start ups to be mentored by world leading academics from Institute of Education (IoE), MIT and Carnegie Mellon,
- UCL Presentation of new edtech research – new research from UCL’s Institute of Education, the world’s leading centre for education research and teaching, on where and how edtech is set to make the biggest global impact.
Sunny Varkey added:
“This will be the first ed-tech summit in the world which will join the most important players from the spheres of education and technology together. Startups will have access to every type of stakeholder – from Silicon Valley venture capitalists to former and current education ministers, foundations, academics and the world’s best teachers. They can draw on their expertise and support to build products that will work as well in the classroom as they do in an elevator pitch”.
Ed-tech entrepreneurs can apply to be a finalist of the ‘Next Billion’ prize and attend the Tomorrow summit at https://www.educationandskillsforum.org/ehome/gesf2018/edtech/
The top 50 finalists selected to pitch at the Tomorrow ed-tech summit at GESF 2018 will be announced in February 2018.