London-based ed tech BibliU has raised $10 million in a Series A funding round, underscoring continued interest among investors in a sector for which Covid-19 has, in many respects, been a boon.

BibliU received capital from Nesta Impact Investments, which led the round, as well as Guinness Asset Management, Oxford Sciences Innovation and “other investors” connected to ClearlySo, an impact investment bank.

To date, the firm, which was founded in 2013 and provides e-textbooks at reduced prices,  has raised more than $15 million from around 14 investors through six funding rounds.

BibliU’s Series A, which closed in April, was the latest link in a chain of recent funding rounds related to ed tech companies, interest in which among investors has arguably grown since March, when the coronavirus crisis forced the vast majority of learning online.

Last week, Quizlet, a virtual flashcard platform, reached unicorn status after it raised $30 million in a Series C round. Meanwhile, MasterClass, a start-up that sells online classes taught by celebrities, raised $100 million last week as it eyed expansion driven by swathes of prospective customers stuck in their homes with little to do due to government-enforced lockdowns.

Jamie Edge, head of education & training M&A at EY, said that the pandemic has enabled ed tech providers to rapidly increase their market share, which, in turn, has galvanised interest among private investors.

‘’With Covid-19 restricting a large proportion of the global population to their private quarters, digitised and other forms of remote learning are taking on a new role in facilitating the continued engagement, development, wellbeing and social interaction of children, adult learners, employees and consumers,” he said.
“The resulting uptick in adoption and usage of learning technologies is creating a unique opportunity for innovative solution providers to grow their market share.

“While a number of these businesses are currently giving their solutions away for free, the potential longer-term opportunity has not escaped the interest of early stage investors, recognising the positive implications on addressable market size, increased use cases and, in most cases, global relevance and scalability. At the same time, the industry will require new capital to help to cater for a wave of new demand.”

Edge explained that, while larger education buyouts – particularly transactions involving private equity – have been hampered by a lack of readily available and affordable debt, growth capital volume across the sector has remained robust.
“Unaffected by debt market sentiment, growth capital volumes are consequently expected to hold up or increase, while the ensuing period may well herald the dawn of a new class of ed tech unicorns across all learning types.”

Date published: 26 May 2020

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