The next 50 years could see a golden age for higher education―but only if all players take initiative and act ambitiously. If not, an avalanche of change could sweep the system away.

At least that’s the thinking behind a new report co-written by Sir Michael Barber, Katelyn Donnelly and Saad Rizvi, titled “An Avalanche is Coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead.” Tonight, MaRS is hosting a Global Leadership event to mark the official Canadian launch of this groundbreaking report, bringing thought leaders together to discuss the future of higher education.

Why MaRS and why now?

Over the past eight months MaRS has been busy developing a deep and wide Education Innovation initiative. Our goal? To accelerate the transformation of learning that is currently taking place across the full spectrum of education: K to 12, higher education, self-directed and corporate. This initiative will draw global educators, programmers, investors, entrepreneurs, innovators and policy-makers together to accelerate the pace of education innovation.

To create it, we are working with innovators across the education industry’s key components of pedagogy, curriculum, content, business models (classroom, online, video, hybrid) and technology.

The MaRS team behind it is as diverse as the market it serves. Krista Jones, Aron Solomon and Joseph Wilson anchor the education industry sector. We are supported by skilled advisors who have experience in social innovation and tech startups, and by members of exciting programs such as the MaRS Solutions Lab and the Centre for Impact Investing, both of which provide tools for accelerating social and economic impact.

We have been busy meeting with education entrepreneurs, educators, investors and advisors here at home and all across North America. We’ve brokered connections in New York City, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, Austin, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Calgary, Montreal and Seattle, all in order to measure how Canada’s education entrepreneurs stack up. What we’ve found is that not only do we compete on an international level, but we are also often at the top of the stack!

Toronto is a global hot spot for education innovation

We work with over 150 education entrepreneurs in one of the largest and deepest clusters of education innovation anywhere in the world. Canada, Ontario and Toronto have long histories of expertise in education and are emerging as places where education innovation is flourishing.

Here are some of the exciting high-impact ventures that are transforming education one innovation at a time.

We know that it takes a community to transform an industry and we’re excited to be part of an amazing growing global education innovation community. The community is made up of members including:

  1. education-specific incubators, such as Socractic Labs in New York City, Imagine K12 in Palo Alto and LearnLaunch in Boston;
  2. dedicated venture capital funds, such as LearnCapital in Menlo Park, California, NewSchools Venture Fund in Oakland, California, and Rethink Education in New York City;
  3. a long list of Tier 1 venture capitalists who have committed serious funds to this vertical, including Novak Biddle Venture Partners, NEA, Union Square Ventures, Kapor Capital, Macmillan New Ventures, Charles River and more; and
  4. leading philanthropists, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, George Lucas’s Edutopia and Mitchell Kapor.

Canada is poised to take advantage of its hard-earned reputation for quality education and turn it into a powerful tool for economic development. Education startups from Canada have the power to scale into global companies, and MaRS can help them do it. Together with education innovators and high-impact ventures, we are creating a movement that fosters entrepreneurship, risk taking, learning by doing and collaboration by all participants in a place where the future of education is imagined and the next generation of education is being created one innovation at a time.

Stay tuned for more news about this exciting initiative!

Krista Jones

Krista leads the education technology (EdTech) cluster at MaRS. This emerging sector applies innovative technologies, and the latest advances in pedagogy and business models to advance the global education industry. Krista has personally advised over 350 startups and worked with 1,300 ventures in the tech sector. See more…