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LIG: Pioneer in Nordic Education Technology

LIG is a leading Nordic edtech business development group, that grows companies into global leaders. Investment in edtech will reach $252bn globally by 2020 while only 2% of the education market is digitalised, and we want to cement our leadership.

Our story

Learning Intelligence Group is a leading education technology (edtech) pioneer in the Nordic region. We select, fund and grow edtech innovations from the Nordic region into profitable global brands. Born from decades of combined experience in building and funding edtech companies, LIG consists of experienced entrepreneurs and investors who leverage their resources, networks and funds to other entrepreneurs looking to aggressively innovate the undisrupted global education market.

The LIG story begins in 2013 in Helsinki, when serial entrepreneurs Vesa Perälä, Mervi Palander, Micke Paqvalén and Antti Pasila founded CLANED, a revolutionary cloud-based social learning environment. Their 4-year journey in making CLANED a success story revealed how edtech companies in the Nordic region lack the funding, business development support and networks to enable their success. In 2017, LIG acquired GraphoGame (in Finnish Ekapeli), a research-driven literacy game and learning environment, to leverage the founders’ experience and networks in building Nordic edtech phenomena.

Many promising Nordic edtech businesses and entrepreneurs fail, as they lack the edtech experience and networks to accelerate their growth into global markets, and leverage on that success. LIG was founded to address this gap in the Nordic edtech market, by concentrating proven edtech entrepreneurs, the best academic know-how, the top machine learning and AI experts and a globe-spanning partner network into one focused edtech vehicle: Learning Intelligence Group.

LIG represents the cutting edge of Finnish and Nordic edtech. This success is born from the caliber of our founding team headquartered in Helsinki. Possessing prestigious achievements, such as winning the Worlddidac Award in 2016, contributing to the new Finnish National Curriculum or securing seven exits from their businesses, our founders and advisors are remarkably well-equipped to build innovative Nordic edtech companies at every stage, from startup to growth, and ultimately exit through IPO or a private sale. The next milestone for LIG is to accelerate the growth of CLANED into a world leading learning analytics company while developing GraphoGame and its 0.5 million users into a fast-growing education gaming business.

Our vision is to become the world’s leading edtech business development group, enabling global success for the top entrepreneurs and technologies from the Nordic region. The LIG mission is to provide our portfolio businesses with an integrated support system through funding, mentoring and partner network exposure, while simultaneously fostering the nascent edtech ecosystem.

Our guiding principles in reaching our vision are simple:

  • Trust: From entrepreneurs, to entrepreneurs
  • Scalability: Generate wide-ranging impact through massive growth
  • Pedagogy: Evidence-based solutions based on academic research
  • Sustainability: Holistic understanding of society produces maximum social impact

LIG is now ready to take the next step and become the global leader in education technology!

Our business & market situation

The Education Market

Success in the 21st Century will rely on the way we act today to the dramatic changes education and learning are facing. Leading the world in PISA scores for two decades, Finland and the Nordics are known around the world for being the benchmark for education performance. Coupled with the Nordics’ reputation for technological excellence and innovation, it is clear we will lead in the coming digital disruption of education.

The education market is valued at $5 trillion. To put this into perspective, the entire global software market amounts to only 12.5% of education, while the media and entertainment industry reaches a mere 33%. Yet despite this, only 2% of the education market is digitalised. Investment in education technology has seen significant growth in recent years with both investors and entrepreneurs waking up to the sheer potential of the market. Disruptive education technology is undoubtedly the next trillion-dollar opportunity, as global investment in the field has already reached over $6 billion in just the last two years and edtech alone is projected to grow 17% per annum up to 2020. The market is hot and the time to invest in edtech is now.

However, education in itself is not the goal. Education is a tool for establishing tighter-knit societies, wealthy economies and healthy natural ecosystems, as people are empowered to reach their potential. Quality education has been shown to improve health and wellbeing, reduce poverty, increase social inclusion and foster peace. The benefits of all-inclusive, high quality education for society is unquestionable.

The Education Technology Market

However, education never remains static. Today, the questions we as societies must ask ourselves revolve around the uncertainties we will face in the Digital Age: does my job and profession have a future? What does the future look like for our children’s generation? How can talent be fostered and deployed to enable people to fulfill their full potential to support more prosperous and peaceful societies?

By the year 2025, half of the jobs we see today will disappear and to meet the educational demands of a growing world population of skilled labour, humanity would need to build two universities per day for the next 20 years. The future may seem bleak, but we can avert it.

The role of LIG in the education ecosystem is to accelerate the growth of the edtech innovations needed to answer these questions and challenges. Innovations in which technology and pedagogy work hand-in-hand, extending the reach of teachers and educators, while enabling a more personalised, adaptive and fulfilling learning experience for students. Making use of education-focused artificial intelligence, or “Learning Intelligence”, edtech empowers educators, students and parents to take control of learning: understand how specific individuals learn or struggle, predict dropouts, and facilitate more effective interventions, and improve efficiency.

“If you believe in the societal pressure to drive improvement in educational outcomes and there’s not money to put more teachers against students, the next best strategy is to try to use technology.”

- Claudio Aspesi, Senior Research Analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.

Our Business & Value Proposition

LIG and its current portfolio companies are on their way to becoming edtech leaders internationally, and the clear leader in Finland, from pre-school learning, all the way to higher-education and corporate learning. Through LIG, our own ventures, our partners and future portfolio companies will benefit from membership in the LIG family:

  • Business: we enable, empower and open doors for our portfolio companies and partners through our globe-spanning business and funding networks
  • Education: we are educators and teachers, and we ensure our products and solutions are theoretically sound and have a solid pedagogical and academic foundation
  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning: we are techies with a strong software pedigree and years of experience in building IT companies that implement machine learning and AI solutions

Competitive Advantage 

Our competitive advantage does not solely rely on the excellence of our founders and advisors, nor the width and quality of our networks, but rather in how LIG embodies in its strategies the latest innovations in machine learning algorithms, best practices in pedagogy from trained educators, and where the Nordics have traditionally struggled with: bringing spearhead innovations to the global market through our global expansion strategies and extensive networks enabling effective sales and marketing.

We provide a first-class integrated support system for our partners tailored to their market situation, product and team. LIG empowers its portfolio partners with the tools that edtech businesses need to succeed globally, whether they be seed-stage or Series C onwards, our founders and advisors have walked on the same path before and generously share their collective experience, know-how and network to set strategies, arrange for financing, raise funding and provide operational support to our portfolio companies and partners.

How LIG Selects

The LIG value chain begins with the way our team selects our partners and ventures. Our deep academic pedigree, network and credibility gives us an unparallelled channel of communication with the top academic talents in education, neuropsychology and pedagogy in top universities and institutions in Finland, and around the world. Early-stage spearhead innovations and technologies are often presented to us before other companies are consulted, while researchers seek our support in commercialising their inventions, such as the recently acquired university-developed edtech game, GraphoGame. Furthermore, our strong positioning in the edtech ecosystem in Finland attracts top talents in edtech conferences, hackathons and competitions, where LIG will take an active role in championing the Nordic edtech scene.

Once presented with a potential partner business or entrepreneur, the LIG selection process is governed by a set of criteria that ensures their compatibility with our vision, mission and working philosophy.

  • Research: The product and its value-generation model must leverage the team’s expertise and has a steadfast academically researched theoretical foundation
  • Scalability: The problem education is facing in this Century can feel overwhelming. Therefore, the potential partner must have the capacity to affect a profound and sweeping impact on millions of people’s lives. Education technology should democratise education, not restrict it for the privileged.
  • Team: In education technology, expertise is key. We seek out partners who are highly motivated, entrepreneurs with a deep understanding of the education market. Outstanding people create outstanding successes.

How LIG Supports Growth

Most companies would agree that education innovations, new technologies and artificial intelligences are fascinating. However, they lack the patience, market knowledge, networks and business insights that are required to create genuinely impactful education technologies. Learning Intelligence Group has a different approach:

Business Development

LIG fuels innovators and driven edtech entrepreneurs to create sustainable, scalable, evidence-based edtech products and services with their long-term commercial success as the goal. Too many Nordic entrepreneurs have to give up and exit their own businesses prematurely, as they fail to innovate monetisation models, partner sales strategies and funding round roadmaps. Our long-term perspective is invaluable for burgeoning edtech businesses. We offer aid in facilitating our partners’ rapid growth into monetisable, stand-alone businesses, as our expertise in the field of monetising and growing education innovations is unparalleled in the Nordic region.

LIG also generates value for its growth-stage portfolio companies through not only funding their commercialisation, but also in setting strategies and roadmaps to position the business for an eventual IPO or strategic acquisition. Once our portfolio partner grows in scale to reach high-level capital events, LIG will offer close support in reaching an attractive initial offering. LIG has a global network of investors, investment bankers, underwriters and law firms to engage when setting on the path to IPO: whether it is drafting their first IPO prospectus, or generating hype and attracting investors in an IPO roadshow, LIG is capable of adding value at every stage of an edtech company’s growth.

Operational Support

The greatest value that LIG offers our portfolio companies is not just through our business development and funding support, but also through close operational involvement in generating strategies to scale their products and services for maximum value-creation, impact and commercial sustainability. For seed stage companies, we generate value through supporting our time-pressed innovators and entrepreneurs in product development strategy, hiring top talents from our networks and attracting media attention to their activities.

Partner Network

We offer our portfolio access to our wide networks of partners and resellers around the world, for example in high growth markets such as India, China, Australia, Latin America and South-East Asia. We have long, established relationships with our partners and can rapidly open doors for our portfolio businesses to grow their sales exponentially based on their faith in the credibility, expertise and trustworthiness of the LIG founders and advisors.

Influencing Power

Finland and the EU-zone have a rich offering of public financial support mechanisms and grants for edtech businesses of varying sizes, but knowledge and exploitation of such opportunities can be highly challenging for growing edtech businesses. Our founders and advisors have a fantastic track record and are exceptionally knowledgeable of the wide range of public grants that are offered to businesses of varying types and stages. Our insights aid in pinpointing the appropriate financing, understanding the reporting requirements and avoiding common pitfalls through our experience in applying for subsidies and grants. Our team has deep understanding on public sector decision making and regulatory affairs with high profile expertise from political and administrative processes on national and international level.

Our Portfolio

In the course of 2017-18 we will focus on further boosting the growth of our existing portfolio companies: CLANED and GraphoGame.

CLANED is a collaborative online learning platform that utilises machine learning to understand how different individuals learn. It personalises learning to each individual, optimising study motivation and improving learning results. In CLANED students can build their own individualised learning paths, track their progress, collaborate with peers and adjust learning habits. CLANED applies artificial intelligence and educational psychology to bring support to the learning process for every individual, based on years of educational research and development.

CLANED combines state of the art Finnish pedagogy and an analytics dashboard developed in-house, in order to provide unique insights into learning for the entire education ecosystem. CLANED constantly gathers information about how a particular student is learning, and then feeds the data back to students and teachers in the form of recommendations, such as additional related study materials, mentors, extracurricular activities, and all kinds of other activities designed to optimise their learning journey.

CLANED grew its revenue approximately over 1000% in 2016 compared to 2015 and foresees this strong growth to continue in 2017 and beyond. The first so far 14-month commercial phase has resulted excellent results and the commercial references include names such as Microsoft, United Nations, City of Helsinki, European Olympic Committees and Catholic Education Western Australia, amongst many, many more. In total, CLANED sales activities has resulted over 70 organizations as customers in over 20 countries during a time span of 14 months. Most customers are higher education and vocational training institutions, schools and corporations but also municipalities, non-government organizations and even states.

Our international partners and resellers in countries such as the United States, India, Spain and Indonesia are increasingly stepping up their own operations to contribute to the growth of CLANED. 

We estimate to publish several large deals in Spain/Latin America, Singapore, Vietnam, India and in United Arab Emirates during this investment campaign assuming we can agree on all details with the respective customers. The first one is a signed deal with the education arm of one of the largest banks in the world opening an entire continent and nearly 1500 universities for us. Another major one is being signed with a German company, which is the largest one in its industry globally.

India is a great example of our long-term investment in growth and scale: CLANED launched its first commercial operations in India in September 2016 and since then has closed around 10 deals with school franchises, universities and corporations in close co-operation with our Mumbai-based local partner, LyncBiz Ltd. CLANED is soon expected to announce its first government-level agreements, while business from India and our partnership with Lyncbiz is anticipated to contribute to overall CLANED growth very significantly already in Q4 2017.

Recent deals include a successful entry to Vietnamese market. Nguyen Hoang Group has app. 35,000 students in several schools and starts deploying CLANED immediately. In addition, they start re-selling CLANED as our nationwide partner in Vietnam. First seven offers will be submitted still during October. Another recent deal was done with Santillana, which is one of the largest publishers in the Spanish speaking world. They start deploying CLANED in 5 different countries in Q4 2017.

Professional teacher training is becoming an important spearhead program for CLANED. One of the reasons for promoting professional teacher training is the undisputed great reputation, brand and quality of Finnish teacher training. CLANED has developed over 200 modules of professional teacher training content in close co-operation with Microsoft and Finnish National Agency for Education and the modules are now being delivered on CLANED platform to all Finnish teachers and principals nationwide. The combination of a smart platform and high quality content is very attractive to customers internationally and we are currently finalizing negotiations with customers in 11 different countries and states. One of the countries is India, which has 8.5 million teachers and 260 million students.

CLANED is the proud winner of the prestigious Worddidac Award 2016, Bully Award 2017 and was a finalist in GESS Education Awards. CLANED was also nominated as a “Top 10 Companies Disrupting the Education Industry in 2017.”

GraphoGame (Ekapeli) is a technology-enhanced learning environment and methodology discovered and designed by academics for training reading skills efficiently. The GraphoGame methodology was innovated in Finland in the Agora Human Technology Center of the University of Jyväskylä in collaboration with 20 institutions of higher education, including University of Cambridge, Lund University and University of Zürich, to name a few. GraphoGame is the culmination of a 30-year global scientific study on dyslexia prevention and the use of technology in achieving this.

GraphoGame is a multiplatform application that teaches children and adults letter and letter-sound combinations by adapting to user skills levels through learning algorithms, while providing actionable learning analytics for parents and teachers alike. GraphoGame dynamically adapts the difficulty level to the user’s individual ability, challenging advanced users and incentivising struggling readers. The methodology behind GraphoGame is peer-reviewed, evidence-based and highly scalable, as GraphoGame licenses the game methodology to researchers around the world to develop a GraphoGame version with their language or target group in mind.

GraphoGame acts like a teacher’s assistant, aiding children in navigating their growing literacy with personalised 1-on-1 sessions, every day. With over 740 million people suffering from dyslexia in the world, and 780 million illiterate adults, the education sectors in every country in the world are incapable of upholding, or improving, the quality and quantity of their teaching through traditional means. Academically studied and scalable self-teaching technological solutions are not an option for the future, they are a necessity.

GraphoGame is not just a learning environment delivered through a game interface. It is a platform for neuropsychologists, educators, linguists and scientists around the world to utilise our evidence-based GraphoGame method to study how illiteracy and dyslexia is manifested in their language, and collaborate in creating content with us for wider audiences around the globe. This has been achieved through GraphoWorld, a vibrant international academic network of scientists specialising in dyslexia and illiteracy that actively contribute to making GraphoGame the most academically supported commercial learning game in the world. GraphoGame represents a revolutionary approach for bridging the gap between science and commerce.

Commercial business development activities have been kicked off for multiple language versions of the game. First expected deals are estimated to be closed in the UK, China, France, India and Norway already in Q4 2017.

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Our team

Our team

The Learning Intelligence team is a diverse mix of highly experienced entrepreneurs, executives, advisors and investors. Collectively they boast:

  • +10 exits
  • +900M€ raised in funding
  • +100 years of entrepreneurial experience
  • +50 years of corporate experience
  • Board members in 30 companies
  • C-level positions at world leading companies, such as IKEA, Stora Enso, GN Netcom, Coloplast
  • Board members of multinationals, such as Amer Sports, Novo Nordisk, Neste and Citi Group
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Vesa Perälä

CEO, LIG; Executive Chairman, CLANED

Vesa Perälä has founded companies in five countries, has three exits under his belt and has raised over 30M€ in venture capital so far.

Vesa is the CEO of LIG and oversees all its commercial operations and portfolio companies. As a Founder and Executive Chairman of CLANED, he is responsible for their business development, partnerships and growth, which directly contributes to the operational success of LIG and its portfolio. He is a highly experienced international business developer with a passion for business models, scaling up, monetisation mechanisms and strategic partnerships. Vesa was a senior executive at Nokia, Jabra and Coloplast for 15 years before becoming an entrepreneur in 2008. He has invested in close to 10 Nordic startups, grown Web of Trust to over 100 million users globally and closed commercial deals with over 100 companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mail.ru, Santander etc. in over 20 countries.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/vesaperala/
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Micke Paqvalén

Executive Chairman, LIG

Lars-Michaël “Micke” Paqvalén, the Founder and Executive Chairman of Learning Intelligence Group, is a serial entrepreneur, who has built, operated and exited seven major software companies in the field of ERP, Real-Time Multimedia Communication, Digital Advertising, Influencer Marketing, E-Learning and Construction & Supply Chain Management.

His passion has always been to seek for disruptions, innovative, create opportunities and deliver growth in a global environment through a strong understanding of how to build winning brands and supporting teams. He has lived and worked internationally for the past 30 years and raised close to €200 million in financing from leading institutions and investors. During his tenure as entrepreneur he has, among others, been awarded with the European ICT Grand Prize, the award for Best Enterprise Software solution at the Mobile World Congress, Red Herring Global Award, The American and European Business Award and many global design awards. Micke Paqvalén is an active supporter and sponsor of the World Childhood Foundation and a proud father of three wonderful daughters.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/paqvalen/
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Antti Pasila

Board Member, LIG

Antti Pasila is cofounder and CEO of Kiosked, a global online publisher monetising platform.

He is a serial entrepreneur and a digital marketing executive with a broad and extensive experience in building online businesses. Antti has founded several technology companies, including CLANED Group and Ideair, while also advising and serving as a board member in a handful of other technology-driven startups. Antti is based in Los Angeles, CA.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/anttipasila/
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Hannu Ryöppönen

Founding Investor

Private investor in a variety of asset classes, from startups, private equity to property and listed instruments. Previously the Chief Financial Officer of IKEA Group for over 13 years, and with close to 40 years in international business spanning a wide range of industries. He has been based in 7 countries representing large international corporations as CFO for well over 20 years. With several decades of private equity experience in companies like Industri Kapital and Altor Funds, Hannu has unparalleled knowledge of the Nordic investment landscape, not to mention access to unrivalled insights in finance, business strategy and business models, to name a few. During his career Hannu has participated in numerous fund raising activities in both share issues in listed companies and private equity financing, amounting to over €10+ billion raised.

Hannu has been a board member in multiple multinational corporations, such as Novo Nordisk, Citi, ICA Group, Rautaruukki and Neste Oil. Today he is based in London and serves as a board member in Amer Sports and numerous British private equity firms.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannu-ryopponen-208aa0b4/?ppe=1
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Mervi Palander

CEO, CLANED; Executive Chairman, GraphoGame; Board Member, LIG

Mervi Palander, the CEO of CLANED and Executive Chairman of GraphoGame has over 20 years of experience in digital learning systems, innovative pedagogical solutions, project management and leadership with both large multinationals and small start-up companies. Up to 2004, Mervi was responsible for creating the e-learning operations for Nokia. From 2010 for three years, Mervi directed the Finnish National Education export program, namely Future Learning Finland. She has studies in both psychology and new media, and a master’s degree in Education from the University of Turku, Finland.

As the CEO of CLANED, Mervi has created a winning team to build upon her original product vision and leads the company to achieve its ambitious goals. Mervi has planned and executed the acquisition of GraphoGame during 2016-17 and continues leading the company as its chairman.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mervi-palander-71952644/
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Sami Paatero

Founding Partner

Sami Paatero has 20 years of insight from policy and regulatory affairs in the Finnish Parliament and Government. He has served in several key positions developing ICT policy, digital services and digital innovation ecosystems in Finland. He has also several years of experience in foreign and security policy affairs. In addition to his long career in public sector, Sami also has experience from digital business in private sector.  Sami holds a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree with a focus on international law from the University of Turku, Finland. 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sami-paatero-a177ba52/
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Ossi Valtanen

Senior Advisor

Ossi is a Partner and Co-Founder of Eurocredit Exchange.  Eurocredit is an independent private debt and equity capital arrangement business exclusively focused on corporates and enterprises across Europe.

Ossi’s career spans over 18 years in the asset management industry managing large European and Global Absolute Return, Fixed Income and Credit portfolios with an excellent track-record. Previously Ossi was the Senior European Credit Portfolio Manager at Wellington Management, head of European Credit at State Street Global Advisors and a Senior Credit Portfolio Manager at UBS Global Asset Management. Throughout his career, he has managed several investment teams, built investment processes and managed end-investor relationships.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ossi-valtanen-3958819/?ppe=1
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Ossi Tiltti

Senior Technical Advisor

Ossi Tiltti, Senior Technical Adviser to the Learning Intelligence Group, has worked for 20 years in various fields in the IT industry, ranging from hardware to software, service and life-cycle management, logical to physical architecture and all the way to modern cloud environments providing serverless architectures for large scale elastic internet solutions - in other words, the whole nine yards and then some.

Ossi has worked in leading roles in industries varying from insurance, finance and education to entertainment and lately industrial Internet of Things focusing heavily on analytics, big data, business intelligence and machine learning. His passion, despite being a tech-geek, involves spending as much time as possible in all the earthly elements: in air with aviation and building drones, on water scuba diving and kayaking, and on the surface with all things outdoors from cycling to hiking. He likes to read as many books as possible and studies artificial intelligence, complexity science and anthropology amongst other things, but his favourite reading time is bedtime stories with his daughter.  

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ossi-tiltti-3120071/