An edtech company whose software platform alerts universities to students in need of support has secured a £1m loan to help scale up its operation.
The funding, which comes at the height of the shift to online learning, will help Leeds-based Solutionpath to adapt its technology to remote tuition and roll it out to more universities, creating 11 new jobs. It includes funding from the NPIF – Mercia Debt Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and an equal amount from Mercia’s SME Loans fund.
Described as a ‘fitness app for education’, Solutionpath’s platform measures students’ engagement with their learning activities. It identifies changes in behaviour and alerts both students and tutors, encouraging students to take action and allowing tutors to intervene at the right time and offer personalised support.
Solutionpath was founded in 2013 by Richard Gascoigne and Howard Hall as a spin-out from DTP Group, the Leeds-based IT reseller serving the higher education sector. It now employs 23 staff. Originally pioneered in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University, the platform is now used by 18 institutions.
Richard Gascoigne, CEO of the company, said: “Understanding student engagement and ensuring they have the right support has always been difficult for universities, but at a time when learning is moving online and students are spending more time alone, it is even more important. Solutionpath provides real-time feedback on how new practices are being received and enables them to spot vulnerable students or those at risk of dropping out.”
Chris Pestell and David Wright of Mercia worked on the transaction. Chris Pestell said: “Solutionpath addresses two of the biggest challenges facing universities today – student wellbeing and success rates. Experience has shown that by identifying warning signs, they can take action to improve outcomes. The funding will allow more universities to benefit from this technology and help the company achieve its growth plans.”
Grant Peggie, Director at British Business Bank, said: “NPIF continues to support high-growth businesses, like Solutionpath, across the North. By providing vital funding, we are supporting new skilled jobs, innovation and expansion into new markets.”
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.