30 finalists will travel to the Global Education & Skills Forum in Dubai to compete in pitch competition that recognizes leading EdTech startups making an impact on education in low income and emerging economies

30 innovative EdTech startups have been named as finalists of the Next Billion EdTech Prize, which recognises the most innovative use of technology that has the potential to radically impact education in low income and emerging economies.

The 30 finalists will compete in a pitch contest taking place at the Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF) 2019 on the 22-24 March in Dubai. The forum brings together over 1500 delegates from around the world to solve the most pressing issues in global education, culminating in the award of the Next Billion Edtech Prize and the US $1 million Global Teacher Prize.

While at the forum, the finalists will also have an opportunity to meet some of the most important players from the spheres of both education and technology – from venture capitalists to education ministers, foundations, academics and some of the world’s best teachers. They will be able to draw on their expertise and support to build products that will work as well in the classroom as they do at a pitch competition.

The Next Billion Prize was named to remind the world of the billion young people – a number growing every day – that are being denied an education that allows them to make the most of their talents.

Vikas Pota, Group Chief Executive of Tmrw Digital, which runs the Next Billion Prize, said:

“Congratulations to these startups for making the final 30 that will compete in the Next Billion Prize 2019.

“The Next Billion Prize was created to shine a light on those gifted entrepreneurs that are not only ingenious, but also bold and persistent enough to bring forward the revolutionary ideas that are desperately needed to transform education in those parts of the world where there is limited access to high quality teaching. 

“Our fervent hope is that the prize inspires this new breed of entrepreneur the world over to come forward with the fresh thinking that is needed to help give every child their birthright; access to a great education.”

The 30 startups come from across the globe, including North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Africa. More information on each company can be found at the end of this press release.

The 30 finalists will pitch to an expert panel of judges, made up of venture capitalists, philanthropic investors, educators, and experts in EdTech and learning sciences. They will also pitch to a live audience of GESF delegates made up of leading education figures from public, private and social sectors.

Six of the startups will be selected to return to the main GESF stage for the grand final in front of judges and a live audience. The best three will each be awarded $25,000 and the winner will be awarded the Next Billion Prize trophy.

Finalists from last year’s Next Billion Prize have gone from strength to strength over the past year, using the contacts made at GESF to sign country-wide distribution contracts, receive new investment and achieve rapid growth. For example, after connecting at GESF 2018, Learning Machine and the University of Bahrain have partnered to launch one of the first blockchain credentialing initiatives in the Middle East. BizNation meanwhile has since been named by the World Economic Forum as one of the 50 companies reshaping the future of LATAM, has hired 11 new staff and seen revenues grow by 55%.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Next Billion Prize, added:

“The Next Billion Prize highlights technology’s potential to tackle the problems that have proven too difficult for successive generations of politicians to solve. The power to change education systems at all levels no longer lies exclusively in the hands of the political and business elite through the traditional models of global policymaking. Changemakers can be those who work away from the spotlight in startups located across the world.”

The final 30 startups selected for the Next Billion Prize are:

Talk2U, OxEd, Whetu, Signa, SimBi, Moi Social Learning, Kuwala, Etudesk, PraxiLabs, Langbot, Seppo, Lesson App, Eneza, Aveti Learning Pvt. Ltd., Utter, Dost, Solve Education, M-Shule, eLimu, Wizenoze Ltd, ScholarX, Sabaq, Silabuz, Zelda, MTabe, Ubongo, Fineazy, TeachPitch, Big Picture Learning/Imblaze, and AugLi.


For further information about the Global Education & Skills Forum please visit: https://educationandskillsforum.org 

The Next Billion Prize will be part of the EdTech@GESF track of the conference, and all the finalists attending the GESF will have an opportunity to participate in:

  • Ministerial Mentoring – This is an opportunity for startups to hear from current and former education ministers about what makes EdTech solutions attractive from a government’s perspective, and for ministers to learn directly about new technologies that can make a difference to their nations.
  • Investment connections – An unrivalled opportunity to meet venture capital and impact investors from Silicon Valley and beyond.
  • Learning Science Mentoring – Startups will be able to hear from the brightest minds in learning science, including world leading academics from institutions such as the Jakobs Foundation.
  • Foundation Consultation – An opportunity to meet some of the world’s leading foundations such as the Omidyar Foundation to discuss how they measure impact and their criteria for awarding funds.
  • Teacher Meet – An opportunity to meet finalists of the Global Teacher Prize that are already successfully implementing EdTech solutions across the world.
  • Academic Research – An opportunity to meet some of the world’s leading academics in EdTech; from leading Universities and Research Institutions such as Carnegie Mellon, Stanford and Harvard Universities.

The 30 finalists:


  • Talk2U is a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence and storytelling to engage young people in South America through one-to-one conversations that create positive change on issues related to social development issues, financial literacy, sex education and digital safety.
  • OxEd has a portfolio of innovative EdTech products and has recently created Wumbox, an educational platform that can be accessed online or offline that offers a wide range of fun, personalized adaptive tools designed to enrich the learning experiences of children aged from 4 to 12 years old.
  • Whetu builds certified, online programs taught by subject-matter experts that provide users with hands on education in a wide range of areas that contribute to solving the world’s most pressing shared challenges. Through online learning and the provision of tools at a local level, Whetu aims to help those with limited access to mainstream education develop skills that allow them to engage with policy makers and become changemakers. 


  • Signa supports the needs of the Brazilian deaf and hard of hearing community through its online platform that not only provides course materials to students, but aims to empower them through bespoke and targeted online learning courses and tools.


  • Simbi is the only reading technology that motivates its users to read out loud (ROL), understanding that their voices are teaching people around the world through reading while listening (RWL). Its ROL and RWL systems combined with the power of a collaborative platform instil intrinsic and extrinsic motivational inputs to help drive a reader’s desire to read and improve reading proficiency.


  • Moi Social Learning has a collaborative learning platform that integrates parents and teachers into the individual learning process of a child, helping address the gap that lack of parental engagement brings to a child’s development. Moi Social Learning is the only learning tool that improves reading and writing skills, technological literacy and motivation to learn even without the need of a teacher.
  • Kuwala has developed Mogan, a comprehensive program consisting of a video game, reporting, reflection and teacher training that aims to prevent and stop violence in schools by helping students develop emotional intelligence as well as ethical and critical thinking skills. Mogan uses artificial intelligence and a chatbot to provide personalised support and learning to students.

Côte d'Ivoire:

  • Etudesk aims to make online education more accessible to everyone in emerging markets. As a web platform helping organizations to build and easily manage their online training programs, it provides professional coaching for jobseekers, including teachers, to help them find employment. They work with both the companies seeking employers as well as potential employees.


  • PraxiLabs provides virtual laboratories for schools and learning organisations in the Middle East and beyond. With 3D simulations of major experiments in biology, chemistry and physics, students can access these from their devices at any time. Additional multimedia files help students perform their scientific experiments and the whole process can be integrated within existing learning management systems of schools or education providers, giving learners worldwide tools to experiment and learn science.


  • LangBot allows schools, teachers or publishers to easily create AI chatbots which act as personal language tutors that teach or prepare learners for tests using content they create on the platform. Tools are provided to content creators and teachers to develop their own lessons or plans and give personalised language teaching and testing to students. Technology, teaching and personalisation are carefully orchestrated by the teachers or content developers, underpinned by a technology solution which could prove a potential catalyst to scale language learning in multiple contexts.


  • Seppo is an innovative tool for creating educational games for learning outdoors, with teachers creating tasks that students solve in teams using mobile devices. It helps students acquire 21st century skills such as problem solving, creativity, teamwork and sharing know-how, with Seppo students also learning media literacy, video production, audio and other digital skills.
  • LessonApp helps teachers by offering information on what improves learning and how to design versatile and purposeful lessons. LessonApp contains pedagogically savvy lesson structures, over 100 different teaching methods to choose from, and allows teachers to save lesson plans and share with other users globally. The LessonApp community offers access to a database to browse ready-to-teach lessons and the ability to connect with other users for collegial support and new ideas.


  • Eneza Education is a comprehensive virtual tutor providing universal access to affordable, quality, lifelong learning through mobile technology. The Mobile Learning Platform helps tackle Africa’s problems of illiteracy, school dropouts, high textbook costs and lack of quality feedback for learners. It has evolved from access on any mobile phone through USSD & SMS, to multi-device- smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Learners access the platform via mobile web, desktop, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram and teachers and school administrators are empowered by being equipped with relevant content.


  • AugLi’s digital platform is built to develop 21st century skills and competencies with a daily stream of current affairs and personalised interest areas incorporating adjustable reading levels to supercharge the learner’s curiosity. They are given engaging activities to practice and develop meaningful conversations, coached with feedback on their clarity, pauses, energy levels and use of rich vocabulary.
  • Shikhya, a flagship e-learning program of Aveti Learning Limited, provides high-quality digital education to underprivileged Indian students, in more than 15 regional languages. It enhances educational standards through personalized and project-based learning, creating Math, Science, and Humanities e-learning content, thousands of video lectures and interactive assessments, all according to the syllabus as mandated by the local school board.
  • Utter is a mobile platform that blends chatbots and live tutoring for training in English and workplace skills. An array of embedded, on-demand features, along with personalised lessons ensure a seamless learning experience. Utter can also help employers train more effectively as its multilingual chatbots cover various sectors including hospitality, logistics, and facilities management.
  • Dost empowers parents of any literacy level to take charge of their child’s early education, creating short, friendly audio content that is sent to parents via their mobile phones. Dost software, audio content, and toolkits make it easy, fun and addictive for parents to boost their child’s early development, so low-income families need no longer send their children to primary school behind and without a chance to catch up.


  • Solve Education! is committed to helping young people around the globe receive quality, effective education. Its experienced education experts, technologists, and business executives have developed innovative education technology to provide a fun, easy-to-access way to learn. Quality and personalized learning at scale are delivered via game apps designed using a combination of serious game mechanics, artificial intelligence, social media features, plus incentives to help students improve their motivation to learn.


  • Tackling the literacy crisis in Africa by focusing on local languages, eLimu make literacy apps with relatable content, in local languages, and with scientifically-proven pedagogy. eLimu relies on storytelling traditions and technology to promote learning and attainment, motivation and retention with contextualised learning.
  • M-Shule is an education platform bringing personalized, data-driven learning to every child through SMS. Its adaptive learning engine continuously analyzes each learner's ability in order to generate personalized learning tracks and build their skills. It provides an integrated solution - easily accessible through SMS for parents and teachers, with a web app for school directors.


  • Wizenoze is helping students at schools, in libraries and at home to find readable, relevant and reliable content online for educational purposes. Wizenoze has developed The Web for Classrooms (WfC) containing links to over 6.5 million pages of teacher-approved English-language web content from trusted sources, to deliver accessible, personalised and creative learning experiences for all students. WfC supports teachers and students to find and use online content that enhances their learning, providing children worldwide with access to an internet that they can read and fully understand.


  • ScholarX is a social impact startup focusing on education financing to help young Africans from low income backgrounds access quality education through scholarships, crowdfunding and e-learning. After downloading the app from Google Play store and iTunes, users create an account then search for a list of scholarships that match their qualifications.


  • Sabaq is an EdTech initiative that aims to increase student engagement and improve learning outcomes through high quality digital content that is fun to learn and easily scalable. The curriculum-aligned learning platform aims to help children across Pakistan improve learning gains in primary grades to build a strong foundation for later school years, especially in low resource, low quality learning conditions. It uses powerful and meaningful stories to deliver lessons that keeps students engaged and curious by captivating their imagination, provides learning assessment with instant feedback, helps better equip teachers with lesson plans and teacher guides, and is designed with Enquiry Based Learning at the centre of each unit, so students can build critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


  • Silabuz offers programming and computer science classes for teenagers and schoolchildren, working together with schools to introduce students to the world of technology. This is delivered through a blended learning process combining online lessons and face to face workshops. By developing digital skill sets this aims to address skills gaps and unemployment, benefiting learners in poor areas or with poor access to quality education.

South Africa:

  • Zelda is a mobile platform providing free career guidance to high school students and methods to help them find funding for tertiary education. Based on a student’s strengths, interests and passions, Zelda will make recommendations for the most appropriate bursaries and university opportunities. Focusing on aptitude as well as skillset, it allows students to make the most of their prospects in further education and the job market.


  • Ubongo leverages the power of entertainment, the reach of mass media, and the connectivity of mobile devices, to deliver effective, localized learning to African families at low cost and massive scale. Its family-friendly content promotes literacy and education in resource-poor areas. Through learning at home and in the family through a variety of channels, from online to radio and TV - multi-channel players, cartoons are a central part of its story telling approach.
  • Mtabe is an AI-powered platform providing personalised instant learning content and answers from a virtual tutor via SMS, using artificial intelligence to deliver this to students without internet access. As 70% of Africans have no internet access, this particularly impacts secondary school students in rural villages who also do not have access to textbooks (in Tanzania, the textbook-student ratio is 1:10 and teacher-student ratio is 1:55, with an average school having at least 1,500 students).

United Kingdom:

  • Fineazy is an AI-powered chatbot empowering informed financial decisions, taking finance education to the next level. Fineazy’s mission is to build financial capability and confidence so everyone is empowered to make informed financial decisions in a world where financial illiteracy is a huge social challenge. Finance is barely taught in schools, available information is overly complex, and existing education tools are either manual, expensive, and not measurable; or have prohibitive user requirements. Fineazy tackles this by creating captivating quests, characters and high-quality trustworthy content, utilising machine learning to provide a personalised service.
  • TeachPitch is a free web and mobile tool that helps teachers find the best online learning resources. It aims to help bring teachers around the world closer together so they can find and share the best the web has to offer their profession. The service allows teachers to plan their own professional development, access the best learning ideas from around the world, save time, spend less, and compare the best learning resources before buying them.


  • ImBlaze is a social enterprise initiative of Big Picture Learning, whose mission is to activate the potential of schools, systems and education through interest-driven real-world learning. Supported by mentors, ImBlaze is a platform to connect students with appropriate internships, enabling earning outside of the classroom. Offering training and support for teachers to run intern programs at their schools, the aim is to enable the rapid scaling of personalized internships across the USA and around the globe.

Media contacts:
UAE and Middle East:
Yasser Alvi | Georgina Scott
Tel: (+971) 4 4507 600
Email: yasser.alvi@bcw-global.com  |

© Press Release 2019

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