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Turning a New Leaf in Learning Tech

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DateTuesday, March 26, 2013

Turning a New Leaf in Learning Tech

New Investment Fund Seeking Early Stage Learning Technology Companies to Build Portfolio

130327_Leaf_Investments_L-R_Jonny_Parkes_Hugh_ODriscoll_Alan_Maguire.JPGLeaf Investments, a newly established boutique investment fund for the learning technology sector, has announced that it is now actively seeking to build a portfolio of investments in early stage learning technology companies.



Founded on the principle that emerging technologies present opportunities to create new learning solutions, Leaf is backed by the Irish educational publisher, Folens, and over the next two to three years is looking to deploy between €250k and €1 million in support of internationally scalable, high potential early stage companies which have disruptive technologies and a focus on demonstrable intellectual property.



Leaf claims to differentiate itself by combining the education industry pedigree of Folens with the tech investment and learning industry experience of its principals; Hugh O'Driscol, and Alan Maguire and Jonny Parkes who worked closely together at Thirdforce after it bought Electric Paper (more). Leaf is one of the very few funds dedicated to the learning technology sector which it claims mitigates investment risk by offering industry specific insight and support to portfolio companies.



According to IBIS Capital's 'Global e-Learning Investment Review', the learning technology sector is experiencing significant growth as demonstrated by the eLearning market, which is the fastest growing education market today, standing at €91bn in 2012 and forecast for an average growth rate of 23% out to 2017. Commenting on the investment opportunities that Leaf Investments is looking to undertake, Hugh O'Driscoll said; "It's a really interesting time for investment in learning technologies with advances in digital and mobile technologies enabling disruptive, immersive learning experiences. The increased attention the sector is receiving from mainstream funds underlines this. However there are certain industry specific nuances that investors need to understand in order to deliver shareholder returns."


He continued: "We believe Leaf Investments is ideally placed to provide a unique combination of industry expertise and investing experience to early stage start-up companies looking for support. We are very optimistic and excited about some of the emerging businesses that we are currently evaluating and look forward to making further investments in the coming months."



In 2012, Leaf backed two businesses, EmpowerThe User (ETU) and StoryToys. In December 2012, ETU, a provider of roleplay simulation technology for the training and assessment industries secured over €500k in funding from Leaf Investments, Enterprise Ireland and private investors to expand its sales operations in Europe.



StoryToys, inventors of the first digital pop-up book, has also received early stage institutional investor funding amounting to €750,000 from a syndicate of investors including Leaf Investments. StoryToys has quickly established a position for itself as one of the leading providers of "edutainment" apps for iPads, iPhones and personal computers, with its portfolio of 3D interactive digital story books for children.








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