Scottish EdTech firm sets sights on international growth with £1.4m impact investment

Edinburgh-based, education technology and high-impact company Sumdog has secured £1.4 million of funding from Nesta Impact Investments and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise.
Last year, Sumdog’s innovative games-based learning system actively engaged a total of 3 million children in the UK and the US to improve their attainment in maths and English learning. Supported by this new investment, the company aims to have helped 15 million children across both countries by 2022.
Sourced jointly from Nesta Impact Investments, a £17.6 million impact investment fund supported by Big Society Capital, Omidyar Network and innovation foundation Nesta, and the Scottish Investment Bank, the funding has been secured as Sumdog embarks on a major recruitment drive. To support its international growth plans, many new posts are being created at the company’s Edinburgh headquarters. Sumdog also has plans to bolster its US presence with senior appointments to its New York office. Overall, the company’s total headcount is expected to increase by half over the next 12 months.
As it continues to grow, Sumdog’s core mission remains to help close the attainment gap between children from the least and most deprived backgrounds. The company’s online adaptive learning system is carefully aligned to key UK and US education curricula and, through independent studies carried out in Glasgow and Texas, has demonstrated its effectiveness in accelerating educational attainment by children who have fallen behind in the curriculum.
The funding being provided to Sumdog by Nesta Impact Investments and the Scottish Investment Bank is being made with the intention of generating measurable and positive social impact alongside a financial return.
Sumdog saw a 50% increase in turnover during 2016 and expects to build on significant recent turnover growth during 2017. Today, Sumdog is already regularly used across a large number of all UK primary and US elementary schools.
Going forward, the company aims to help many more children using its existing product range as well as further deepening its core subject offering in literacy and numeracy to provide teachers and pupils with an even more comprehensive learning package. Sumdog is also working on exciting plans to create an immersive 3D learning environment, further enhancing engagement with all children, including those who may have become disenchanted with school and learning.
Commenting on the investment, Sumdog CEO Andrew Hall said:
“This is a really exciting time for Sumdog as we seek to expand our team to include the specialist skills we will need to achieve our future ambitions. As a high-impact company, our core mission is to close the educational attainment gap by helping all children reach their full potential. By capturing children’s imagination, Sumdog wants to become a world leader in online learning, starting with maths and English but ultimately covering a much broader range of subjects. This £1.4 million investment will make a crucial contribution as we strive to meet our objective of helping 15 million children across the UK and the US over the next five years.”
Ishaan Chilkoti, a member of the Nesta Impact Investments team said:
“This investment in Sumdog aligns with Nesta Impact Investments’ strategy to invest in innovative approaches and technologies to improve access to high quality education and employment for all. We believe Sumdog has developed a proven platform for online learning. They have shown a clear commitment to achieving social impact and are already reaching large numbers of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, both here in the UK and in the US. We are excited to support them as they embark on ambitious plans for future growth.”
Kerry Sharp, Director of the Scottish Investment Bank said:
“Our decision to provide growth funding to Sumdog was based on the company’s innovative approach, commitment to inclusion, international outlook and economic added value – all factors that Scottish businesses need to be able to thrive and grow in the future. Sumdog is another example of a strong, successful Scottish company to come out of Edinburgh’s tech business hub and is a huge endorsement for Scotland’s position as one of the leading tech hubs in the world. In addition to investment, Scottish Enterprise has been supporting the company through our account management team in areas such as innovation, R&D and international market development.”

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