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Gov. Reynolds announces study findings on the economic opportunities of the EdTech Sector in Iowa

Kim Reynolds

DES MOINES – Gov. Kim Reynolds and representatives from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and Iowa Innovation Council (IIC), today released an economic development roadmap for Iowa’s EdTech industry. EdTech, short for education technology, is a new field that leverages technology and innovation for educational instruction and testing. The announcement was held in Coralville in conjunction with ACTNext’s Education Technology and Computational Psychometrics Symposium, which brings industry leaders from across the globe to Iowa each year.

“Iowa is a national leader in preparing our kids to thrive in the knowledge economy,” said Gov. Reynolds. “This EdTech strategy is about using that advantage to create jobs in this thriving and dynamic sector. It’s a natural next step that further complements efforts already in place through the STEM Council’s STEM Best program and the Future Ready Iowa Initiative. This roadmap will cement our leadership in education and integrate the EdTech sector into Iowa’s economic development priorities.”

TEConomy Partners, LLC conducted a first-ever evaluation of Iowa’s EdTech sector in developing the roadmap released today. The report found the state’s assets in the EdTech space include a diverse mix of larger mature companies, such as ACT, as well as numerous recent startups. Consequently, TEConomy concluded, EdTech presents a strategic industry cluster for Iowa to pursue for future growth — along the same lines and in support of the biosciences and advanced manufacturing sectors.

“In my time at ACT, I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand the benefit to doing business in Iowa,” said Marten Roorda, ACT CEO. “Not only is our state supportive of business expansion, but public-private partnerships like the one behind this report encourage the type of innovation and entrepreneurship that will help ensure the future success of the EdTech sector.”

The IIC is an advisory group made up of state business leaders who work with representatives from Iowa’s community colleges, universities and government to advise IEDA on programs to support commercialization and entrepreneurship. The IIC EdTech Workgroup provided direction and feedback on this report and roadmap.

Over the past year, TEConomy researchers examined Iowa’s current position in comparison with the rest of the nation and determined Iowa has a unique niche in the EdTech space. The report identifies four platforms holding the most promise for Iowa economic development and most likely to benefit from state programs, industry/university partnerships and other sector development activities:

1.  Assessment/Testing
2.  STEM Content
3.  Content Visualization and Virtual Reality Systems
4.  Adaptive Learning Systems

“Iowa has many of the assets for success already in place and by coordinating implementation of new targeted strategies, we can further build-out our industry, ultimately realizing our full EdTech sector growth potential,” said Adam Keune, IIC EdTech Workgroup co-chair and co-founder of Higher Learning Technologies.

The report also recommends four strategy focus areas and a series of associated actions for growing the targeted EdTech platforms in Iowa. The focus areas include collaboration facilitation and cluster networking, enhancing Iowa’s piloting and adoption environment, entrepreneurial ecosystem development and workforce development and access.

“There is much work to be done, but we start from a place of strength and it is now our challenge to align our midwestern values of collaboration and cooperation for the benefit of our future learners and our state,” said Debi Durham, director of IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority. “I’m excited, not just for what EdTech can mean as its own traded cluster, but in support of the talent development and training that feeds into our other industry sectors.”

To download the executive summary and full report, click here.

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