British multinational publishing and education company Pearson plc has launched Pearson Ventures, a venture fund with an initial capital commitment of $50 million over three years, announced Jonathan Chocqueel-Mangan, Chief Strategy Officer at Pearson.
Focusing on geographies where Pearson already has its presence, the startup fund will focus primarily in early-stage startups with Series A and B rounds. Currently the core markets of pearson are — the US, the UK, Brazil, South Africa, India and China.
Pearson Venture will prioritize startups who are working in areas of high strategic importance, including employability, lifelong learning, and next-generation assessment.
The fund, which will invest between $1.5 million and $5 million in each startup, will look for early stage ventures offering new technological capabilities such as artificial intelligence, mobile-first delivery, remote proctoring, or augmented/virtual reality; creating social impact through upskilling, income share agreements, or increasing higher-ed access.
Moreover, Pearson Ventures won’t lead any rounds in any startups, and will instead rely on co-investing with strategic partners. Pearson won’t take board seats at its portfolio companies, nor is it interested in acquiring any of them down the line, said investments director of Pearson, Owen Henkel, in an interview to Business Insider.
The company will partner with venture firms and accelerators through a co-investment structure.
Speaking on India plan, Henkel told Business INsider, “In India, for there is a massive industry around test prep and college admissions, so secondary level test prep is something we would look at for India. In the UK, there isn’t this test prep industry, so we would look at technical qualifications outside of [secondary education],”
In India, Pearson has its substantial presence and operates with the name ‘Pearson Education’, the Indian arm of the London-listed Pearson. Till 2015, Pearson was operating through seven different units in India but evenually put them all under a single company that has been morphed into Pearson Education Services Private Limited.
To recall, in July 2017, Pearson sold its Tutor Vista and Edurite lines of business to India-based education technology company, Byju’s.
In April 2013, Pearson bought, for an undisclosed amount, the entire 50% stake of Educomp Solutions Ltd in IndiaCan, a vocational training firm they jointly started in 2009.
In 2012, Pearson also launched Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, a venture fund focused on education companies in emerging markets like India and between 2012 to 2016 the fund was among the most active investors in India’s education sector in terms of number of deals struck between this period [read here].
Founded in the 1840s, Pearson is the largest education company and was once the largest book publisher in the world.