In the first of our blogs featuring members of our team, we speak with one of our Entrepreneurs in Residence, David Solomides.
David joined the SETsquared Exeter team in 2015 as a growth accelerator coach, bringing with him a wealth of experience enabling student enterprises, early-stage and established businesses to innovate and grow.
David who has had a successful career running businesses in a variety of sectors including tech, software and education supplies, is well equipped to provide specialist support for programme members entering the EdTech sector.
Over the years, the EdTech industry has been growing fast, but nobody could have predicted the global impact of a flu virus strain just a quarter of the way through 2020. Disruption to our daily lives including the provision of education at all levels has meant that traditional teaching approaches and methodologies have been turned on their head.
As schools and colleges were forced to close and exams were cancelled, teachers had to rapidly prepare learning schedules online and switch to a digital delivery. The need for education providers to adopt digital tools at a faster pace than ever before suddenly became apparent.
However, as David Solomides explained, embracing EdTech does not need to undermine the value of face-face teaching.
“One great thing about EdTech is the ability for teachers to utilise learning opportunities for their students via personalised programmes. Such programmes enable students to take ownership of their learning and improve and develop based on past performances. For teachers, administrative tasks are more streamlined, and their time is freed up to enable scope for a greater range of classroom activities. Furthermore, by embedding technology in education we are helping to fill the digital skills gap.”
David was awarded Business Mentor of the Year by the SETsquared Partnership, sits on the board of 5 other companies which are strongly linked to education (Argue To Think Limited, a University of Exeter and SETsquared spin out), Young Enterprise Devon, Exeter Consortium CIO, Zenen Education Services and also Conferences South West Limited, which runs education conferences, including EdTech, across the South of England). and now uses his experience to enable early-stage and established businesses to innovate and grow.
One business that David has recently supported are SETsquared Exeter members, Maths Kitchen, who provide an interactive Maths GCSE website. The aptly named platform was created by two former maths teachers whilst working on the idea part-time in their home kitchens. The aim of the platform is to provide secondary school aged children with a comprehensive revision site to review learning in preparation for GCSEs. Key to their success, is the ability to identify knowledge gaps, the provision of personalised study recommendations and a progress tracker for their target grade.
At the beginning of lockdown in the UK, Maths Kitchen were endorsed by the Department for Education when they posted an official list of recommended educational resources to help children to learn at home amid the Covid-19. Maths Kitchen appear as the only interactive GCSE focused website recommendation on the list.
The current climate for education has changed, but as Maths Kitchen Co-Founder, James Wilmott explained, it does not have to be unfavourable. “I think that we have to reimagine education amid the current circumstances and utilise technology to supplement and enhance face to face learning.”