Belgian Edtech earning high honours
Belgian Edtech is earning high honours in combined enterprise value, growth, early-stage investment by VCs, and more.
An increasing number of local players, like <edtech/station>, have brought recognition to the sector, offering support to founders and partners with the aim to boost Belgium’s Edtech sector. These local players are also working together with programmes, such as imec’s Smart Education programme for Flemish education, to bring together researchers from f.i. KU Leuven, VUB and UGent to develop solutions in educational technology.
This includes companies focusing on Edtech (Edtech companies), those working on Edtech amongst other technologies (Edtech-related companies), companies that provide Edtech solutions (service providers), bigtech and hardware companies focusing on education and training, next to funded projects.
To best capture Belgium’s Edtech landscape’s progress, we’ve mapped out – in partnership with <edtech/station> – a landscape covering 170+ startups, scaleups and grownups with current headquarters in Belgium.
Overview of Belgian Edtech ecosystem
The Belgium Edtech startup scene has grown exponentially over the last two years both in value and VC investment. Moreover, the 170+ HQ’ed based startups, scaleups and grownups, currently support 2.9K jobs globally, with 40% of these being created by companies with less than 50 employees.
Home to over 170+ Edtech startups, Belgium’s ecosystem is worth €218M, that’s 7.1x higher than what it was in 2017. And the seven other identified foreign startups present in Belgium (CrossKnowledge, Lexima, Dokeos, Gynzy, LessonUp, Cloudwise, and Coderdojo) add another €117M.
Belgium-based startups represent 1% of all European Edtech value. When looking at Belgium-based companies only, the most valued Belgium-based startups include: MyskillCamp (content design), MobieTrain (workforce training), and BeCode (STEM).
The Belgian Edtech ecosystem is looking increasingly robust and compelling from an investment perspective. The education system as a whole is widely respected and performs well against OECD averages- this means that when Edtech solutions are employed and integrated within the formal education system, they will need to add meaningful value to provision and to teaching and administrative performance. The quality bar is higher than in markets with lower performing education systems. This is what we’ve observed in other markets with high-performing education system- solutions need to be high quality to justify their integration. This suggests that solutions developed by Belgian companies will be compelling in international markets.
Most Belgian Edtech startups are less than 10-years-old. The youngest cohort of companies (founded after 2015) is both the largest by combined enterprise value, accounting for 87% of the total ecosystem value (or €190M) and the number of companies (70% of the total). This is also the fastest-growing segment, up 16.9x since 2017.
When analyzing the ecosystem by company type (startups, scaleups and grownups), the large majority of companies are startups (168 companies), followed by 8 scaleups, and 1 grownup.
Edtech startups based in Belgium raised a total of €50.7M since 2017, with over 75% being raised since 2020. Although the investment in 2022 slowed down significantly from its peak in 2021, it’s still double the value of 2020, proving that Belgium’s edtech startups are starting to pick up some momentum.
Given the size of the Belgian market, Belgian companies will need to chart an international path to reach a scale that is VC-backable. Fortunately, the Belgian market has broad similarities with comparable European markets. We look forward to following the development of the Belgian ecosystem and partnering with Belgian companies in the period ahead.
Unsurprisingly, most of the ecosystem is made up of non-VC-backed, bootstrapped companies (75%), with venture-backed startups making up the remaining 25%
Moreover, the ecosystem is driven by early-stage rounds (pre-seed to series A). Although no Late VC round has happened yet, in the last two years the ecosystem also registered its first Series A rounds (€4-€15M) by MyskillCamp and MobieTrain.
Domestic vs. international investment
Belgium’s Edtech funding mix is largely sustained by domestic investors, who are responsible for 69% of all investment raised by Belgium-based startups since 2017. Some of the most active investors include the accelerator imec.istart and venture capital firms, such as Inventures Investment Partners and LMR. Foreign investors include Force Over Mass Capital (UK).
Venture capital is the most active investor type in the Belgian Edtech landscape, which accounts for over 50% of all investment since 2017. Followed by other alternative investment sources, such as accelerators and angel funds, and corporates.
Immersive and gamified learning
Immersive and gamified learning is the biggest Edtech segment in Belgium by number of startups and Workforce transformation is the biggest segment by venture capital investment.
The region is particularly strong in workforce training solutions, with leading startups including MobieTrain, and rising stars, such as Whale and Stellar Labs.
In our expansive landscape, we’ve classified over 170+ startups into these segments:
- Language Learning: Solutions enabling language learning. Includes writing assistants, and solutions that enable or help speech or reading disabilities.
- STEM: Programmes for children and adults wanting to upskill in science, tech, engineering, maths and coding.
- Workforce Training: Offering solutions for workforce transformation, delivering and improving skills in the workforce.
- Learning Support & Tutoring: Offering after-school support. It includes marketplaces for finding tutors and materials for homeschooling.
- Administration and Management: Supporting administrative solutions for schools, universities and corporates.
- Assessment & Credentialing: Software solutions that design, issue and manage digital badges earned by learners as evidence of their learning.
- Content Design: Developing tools to create learning content.
- Immersive & Gamified Learning: Startups that use XR, AR, VR, voice, AI, chat, robotics and other frontier tech to educate people.
- Individual-led Learning: Content for personal growth and development.
- Hardware, Network & Cloud: Solutions that are building better digital infrastructure in schools.