- Smart Sparrow, the pioneering adaptive e-learning company based in Sydney and San Francisco, has secured a strategic investment from global education leader American College Testing (ACT).
- ACT is a non-profit developer of tests and assessments taken by millions of individuals annually across the world, and was joined by existing Smart Sparrow investor Uniseed in an investment round that totaled AU$10.5 million.
Smart Sparrow was founded on the output of Dror Ben-Naim’s PhD studies within the Adaptive eLearning Research Group at the School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2010. Smart Sparrow went on to secure its initial investment from Uniseed in 2011, in partnership with local venture capital fund OneVentures.
Since the initial investment round Dr Ben-Naim (Co-founder and CEO of Smart Sparrow) has developed and grown the Smart Sparrow brand to be a global leader in adaptive and personalised learning technology. Smart Sparrow’s courseware development platform and instructional design suite are used by more than 10,000 faculty members worldwide, and educators have created more than 20,000 unique digital learning experiences such as simulations, smart lessons, and interactive blended or online courses over the past five years. Smart Sparrow has been embraced by a variety of innovative institutions in the US and around the world to develop cutting-edge digital courses that provide students with engaging learning experiences, coupled with real-time analytics for instructors that provide key insights into student performance.
Uniseed CEO Dr Peter Devine said “We are excited to have been involved with Smart Sparrow since its inception, and to continue to participate in this investment round. Smart Sparrow’s impact in the marketplace highlights the strategic importance of student intellectual property developed by Australian research organisations. UNSW are highly supportive of fostering entrepreneurship and innovation from students through initiatives led by the Division of Enterprize, including FounderLab and Startup launch. Uniseed’s other research partners are also highly proactive in promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within its campuses through programs such as iLab and IdeaHub (University of Queensland), ON Prime and ON Accelerator (CSIRO), Translating Research at Melbourne (University of Melbourne) and Incubate (University of Sydney)”.
“These initiatives, led by some of Austalia’s leading research organisations, are well aligned with the Australian governments recently released Innovation and Science Australia 2030 Strategic Plan that calls for increased funding to commercialisation and translation activities. ACT’s investment provides further validation of the quality of student IP being developed at Australian research organisations, and Smart Sparrow’s continued success will provide an encouraging example to other entrepreneurs seeking to embark on the start-up journey”.
Co-founder and CEO of Smart Sparrow Dror Ben-Naim, Ph.D. said “We have long admired ACT’s leadership in education research and efficacy, which reflects our own heritage as a university-incubated technology. This new association will help us deliver on our mission of putting amazing technology in the hands of global educators, so they can create dynamic learning experiences that authentically blend learning and assessment. Educators will be better equipped to address the needs of their individual learners, and prepare them to be deep thinkers and creative problem solvers.”
As a result of ACT’s investment, the two organisations will collaborate to accelerate work in learning innovation and expand upon their shared mission to help individuals succeed academically, and make successful transitions into the career pathways of tomorrow. Through leveraging ACTs extensive network, Smart Sparrow’s solutions will enter new markets and geographies to help people around the world learn more efficiently and effectively than ever before.
Uniseed (www.uniseed.com) is a venture fund operating at the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland, New South Wales and Sydney, as well as the CSIRO. Uniseed’s mandate is to facilitate the commercialisation of research partner generated intellectual property by targeted investment in highly promising technologies. Uniseed’s investments cover a range of technology sectors. To date, the fund has exited a number of investments; a drug to treat nerve pain (Spinifex Pharmaceuticals acquisition by Novartis); a drug in development to treat fibrosis (Fibrotech Therapeutics sale to Shire plc); an IT security technology (Vintela sale to Quest Software Inc.); a semi‐ conductor technology (Fultec sale to Bourns Semiconductor Inc); and a headlice treatment (Hatchtech) sold to Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
About Smart Sparrow
Smart Sparrow is an educational technology company that helps higher education institutions and companies create better courses by making them more active and adaptive. Working with Smart Sparrow, anyone can create amazingly engaging and adaptive learning experiences and then continuously improve them using learner analytics. Learners are better supported and more motivated to succeed. Smart Sparrow believes in designing tools that support great teaching and learning solutions that excite learners. Prior to the ACT investment, Smart Sparrow has been supported by investment from Uniseed, OneVentures, Moelis Australia Asset Management and Yellow Brick Capital Advisers U.K. Learn more about Smart Sparrow at www.smartsparrow.com.
ACT is a mission-driven, non-profit organisation dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as a national leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality assessments grounded in nearly 60 years of research. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions designed to provide personalised insights that help individuals succeed from elementary school through career. To learn more about ACT, visit us online at www.act.org.