Last week we took part in XcitED, the main EdTech event of Slush. Edoardo Montenegro shares his impressions.

On Wednesday, 20 November at Otaniemi Upper Secondary School in Espoo, Finland, with Betwyll I took part in XcitED, the EdTech event organized by the Finnish accelerator xEdu during Slush, the important startup fair that every year gathers over 25.000 people in Helsinki.

I had heard about this event since Betwyll joined xEdu with the Spring Batch 2019, last March. I’ve been attending startup fairs and events in Europe for a couple of years, but it’s only thanks to XcitED that I understood the value of a format that’s completely focused on EdTech and – more than rightly – takes place in a school. 

First of all, I don’t think there are many cities in Europe that are able to host some hundreds professionals within a high school. This is a first praiseworthy element for the City of Espoo, known to host Nokia headquarters as well as Aalto University and a series of initiatives and projects that make it an extraordinary European innovation hub.  

An exciting programme

XcitED is a small and determined team able to organize an intense programme on two different stages simultaneously, along with a rich demo area, involving 30 speakers from all across the globe, 110 EdTech startups and several professionals, mainly from Northern Europe, for 9 hours of keynotes, discussions, pitches and workshops. 

Among the many themes explored this year: two panels led by Heini Karppinen (Edtech Finland) on creating impact through educational projects, with a keynote by Tony Addison (United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics), and making them scale up, with a keynote by Juan Luis Vilchez (Amazon); and a discussion on how to put ed before tech, moderated by  Neil O’Toole (Edvisor Finland), accompanied by a keynote by Aleksi Komu (ThingLink).

Equally significant the presence of the EdTech startups in the Founders Pit. They represent the best result of xEdu’s effort, which has accelerated over 70 EdTech startups from all over the world since 2016, including Betwyll. In particular, it is worth mentioning some that for us represent its core and have become a made-in-Finland export product: Kide Science, 3DBear, Mehackit, Mightifier, Elias robot, Seppo e Tiny App.

Betwyll on stage

Coming to us, with Betwyll we took part in a double panel on co-creation between schools and startups involving, among others, Anna Rantapero-Laine from the City of Helsinki, Pekka Peura from Dragon Box Finland, Ida Rönnlund from 4 Ferries, Natasha Skult from MiTale, Jaakko Vuorio form Tampere University and teachers Eemeli Marttila from Oulu and Anu Karhi from Espoo (one of the protagonists of our co-creation project with Jalavapuiston Koulu).

Awards and new partnerships

While Chord Hero from Hong Kong – a key protagonist of the day, just as it was last year with Chartipedia, another EdTech startup from Hong Kong – was winning the Demo Day of the xEdu Autumn Batch 2019 and the Icelandic Mussila Music School was assigned the Nordic Edtech Awards 2019, xEdu launched the partnership with UNTIL, the United Nation Technology Innovation Lab. Together they will work at the creation of a new impact accelerator for EdTech startups. This partnership – along with the recent agreement with EduSpaze Singapore announced during the Helsinki Education Week – reflects the concept of EdTech as a platform. In this view the best ecosystems are in fact creating federations in order to generate a lasting and stable impact in favour of innovation in the education sector worldwide. 

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