Sparx, a socially focused learning technology company based in Exeter, is to receive a £20 million investment from Oxygen House, an ethical and impact-centric group of companies also based in Exeter. The investment follows an initial £30 million investment from Oxygen House which helped to establish Sparx and to develop and trial the technology.
Together, the £50 million investment is thought to be the largest by a UK investor into the UK edtech sector*.
Sparx was founded in 2010 and is an in-class and homework solution which uses machine learning, personalised content and data analytics to allow teachers to focus on effective teaching rather than time-consuming administration. The initial investment from Oxygen House has helped Sparx to work closely with schools to research, test and develop an approach to learning maths which is highly engaging.
Its first product ‘Sparx Maths’ was launched in September 2018 and combines high-quality content, including 32,000 carefully designed maths questions, and an adaptive artificial intelligence (AI) technology platform. Research and feedback from schools shows that Sparx Maths is helping to improve progress and attainment in maths.**
Dan Sandhu, CEO, Sparx said:
“Oxygen House is a dynamic group of companies and we are delighted to have their backing. From day one they have shown a strong belief in our vision for Sparx. This new investment will help us to firmly position Sparx at the forefront of edtech and build on the success we have already achieved with our partner schools. The ongoing support of Oxygen House will enable us to have a significant impact on education nationally and beyond the UK.”
Roy Bedlow, Director, Oxygen House said:
“We are committed to helping to improve education so that young people gain the best outcomes and can have a positive impact on society throughout their lives. Our investment in Sparx demonstrates this, and we are excited to see how this innovative, socially focused company, can transform learners’ lives across the world.”
Critical to this latest investment round is Sparx’ commitment to delivering real impact in education in the UK and globally, summed up in its mission to improve learning outcomes for more than 5 million learners by 2030 (#Ed5M). In the next five years Sparx is planning to rapidly increase the scale of its operations to support its international ambitions.
By applying learning strategies founded in pedagogy with cutting-edge technological knowledge, Sparx is changing perceptions about teaching and learning in schools and at home. Engaging directly with schools is key to that strategy. Exeter’s Ted Wragg Multi-Academy Trust is one such partner whose insight and collaboration during successful trials has helped inform Sparx’ development over the last eight years.
Moira Marder, CEO, Ted Wragg Trust added her support, saying:
“Our schools have worked with Sparx since day one because we share their vision for personalised learning which combines brilliant teaching with technology. I am pleased to hear about this future investment and I look forward to working with them in this new chapter of their development.”
* The majority of announced investment injected into UK companies comes from non-UK investors. For example, in 2018 £90.9m was injected into UK edtech companies (source: The Deal, Equity Investment in the UK 2018, Beauhurst) but some of the largest deals totalling more than half of the investment (£49.7m) in 2018 came from outside the UK.
** Compared with national norms, Sparx Maths Homework students made 67% more progress in Year 7 and a further 63% more progress in Year 8. Furthermore, 70% of students reached the expected KS3 standard by the end of the fifth half term in year 7 – more than a year earlier than in the national cohort.