Industries that have been able to thrive during the coronavirus pandemic are few and far between. Without a doubt, educational technologies —essentially, the business of changing and modernizing education through technology— has been one of them. With schools of all levels and in all locations forced to adapt to remote practices, there has been a genuine EdTech boom.
Whether or not that boom is to continue while society slowly moves on from the coronavirus over the course of 2021, though, remains to be seen. As Danny Konstantinovic at The Business Of Business puts it, some EdTech companies that have found success in 2020 may find themselves without a place to work after COVID. The industry is aware of this possibility, meaning that efforts are already underway to develop greater innovations and more sustainable models.
It is likely that we’ll see a handful of new and existing organizations rise to the top and maintain relevance while others falter. The same argument follows for regions making industry-specific efforts. And at this stage, one place to keep an eye on for lasting and ongoing innovation is the state of Colorado.
A Pre-COVID Foundation
One reason to look at Colorado for enduring success in the aftermath of the pandemic is its status as an epicenter of EdTech activity, with an established foundation well before 2020. We reported back when Remote-Learner decided to move from Virginia to the Centennial state back in 2016. The company focuses on training, customized eLearning and gamification; and it’s only one of a handful of prominent examples of companies operating in this space in Colorado since before the pandemic.
This is important for two reasons. One is that it establishes that there is a strong EdTech ecosystem that did not come out as the result of COVID-19, therefore it need not depend on the evolution of the virus and protective measures against it for success. The other reason is that this firm foundation will likely inspire further innovation in the space, as it tends to happen with regional clusters.
An Inviting eLearning Business Environment
Regarding the hope for further innovation, the fact that Colorado has established itself as an inviting environment for new and growing businesses is instrumental. The State of Colorado makes it fairly easy for new companies to form in an official capacity. The majority of new companies these days are either sole proprietorships or Limited Liabilty Companies, or LLCs. Setting up one of the former involves a virtually effortless setup, from just about anywhere. But for the latter, which can be somewhat more involved, ZenBusiness notes that, when setting up an LLC in Colorado you only need to file Articles of Organization and apply for an Employee Identification Number (EIN). That’s a thoroughly streamlined process that does away with some of the perceived red tape that can stop some startups from growing, and plenty of EdTech startups have taken notice.
Another, closely related way in which Colorado has become particularly inviting, is the an uptick in investor’s attention and growing interest from incubators and the other links in the Venture Capital —VC— chain. According to The Colorado Sun, 2019 alone saw $1 billion USD in venture capital funding making its way to companies based in the Front Range. This includes $15 million for bootcamp startup Galvanize; and $71 for Guild Education. Remarkable figures for a place not commonly thought of as an entrepreneurial and innovative EdTech hub, and that certainly bode well for new prospects looking into the ideal flourishing spot.
The Presence of Industry Leaders
A final, most crucial element in this case, is Colorado’s growing persuation as home to some of the industry leaders in EdTech. It shows the potential of the state as more than just a handful of intriguing startups and a couple of business-friendly laws.
Udemy, a top MOOC competitor based in Denver, has become one of the defining names in EdTech in the times of COVID-19. With ingenious, hands-on robotics kits, Boulder-based Sphero is a pioneer in the segment of STEM and coding skill services aimed at children, subjects whose potential only became more evident in the context of COVID-driven remote learning. Lastly, Pearson, which Fast Company labeled as one of the most innovative education companies of 2020, is producing online learning strategies and materials out of the town of Centennial. These are major names that should ensure that Colorado remains an active base in EdTech, regardless of how the pandemic evolves.