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Case Study

Pearson

Startup 101 Leads to Business Value for for EdTech Leader

Highlights

  • Pearson, the world's leading learning company, wanted to find a better way to engage startups to keep ahead of the curve and find productive ways to work together.
  • Long-term partnership focused on plugging employees into the RocketSpace and broader Silicon Valley startup ecosystem.
  • Employees gained a new perspective and discovered and quickly connected with a number of disruptive edtech startups leading to valuable partnerships.
  • Relationships with like-minded corporate innovation teams based at RocketSpace including leaders from Turner Broadcasting and Samsung.

Background

Pearson is the world's leading learning company with headquarters in London and thousands of employees across 70 countries. They provide learning materials, technologies, assessments and services to teachers and students with the goal of helping people everywhere aim higher and fulfill their true potential.

Pearson’s mission is to help people make more of their lives through learning.

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Challenge

Technology is changing the way people live and learn, so it is critical for industry leaders like Pearson to track emerging tech trends that could both create new opportunity or disrupt their business. Pearson wanted to find a better way to engage the next generation of innovators — startups — to keep ahead of the curve and find productive ways to work together.

While Pearson has employees and a customer base across the globe, there was one place where they were absent: within startup communities. Pearson needed a way to immerse itself into the community and turned to RocketSpace to make it happen.

The curated community of leading tech startups on the RocketSpace campus was the perfect environment to launch Pearson into the startup ecosystem.

Solution

It has been proven that collaboration and an open line of communication among corporations can lead to faster innovation than one company can achieve on its own. Pearson selected RocketSpace as its open innovation partner, leading to a long-term partnership focused on plugging employees into the RocketSpace and broader Silicon Valley startup ecosystem.

Pearson wanted to know “How can we think and work like a startup?” Our answer: “step one: sit by one.”

Along with taking over a couple desks on campus, Pearson tasked RocketSpace with creating an ambassador program — driving engagement and developer evangelism within the community. Barriers were broken down and Pearson employees could now simply stroll down the hall to initiate productive business conversations. Pearson’s presence on campus and work with our Corporate Innovation Services team helped them:

  • Accelerate introductions to relevant industry technologies and startups
  • Scout qualified global startups for Pearson’s internal accelerator program
  • Develop tech and strategy reports to support internal decisions
  • Establish peer conversations with innovation leaders at other global corporations
  • Identify potential new revenue streams and business opportunities
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Impact

Pearson was able to break out of its four walls and immediately immerse itself in the unique startup culture. Not only did employees gain a new perspective, but with RocketSpace’s lead, discovered and quickly connected with a number of disruptive edtech startups. They include:

  • Data analytics startup, Learnmetrics, who was selected for the company’s second accelerator class.
  • ClassOwl, an edtech startup started by Stanford students, who partnered with Pearson when the company looked to integrate social elements to its product.
  • Former RocketSpace member, Top Hat, who teamed up with Pearson to implement a classroom response system for professors to conduct in-class polls using mobile devices.

Beyond benefiting from unique access to promising startups, Pearson also built relationships with like-minded corporate innovation teams based at RocketSpace. Ideas exchanged with leaders from major corporations like Turner Broadcasting and Samsung resulted in additional value while being a part of the campus community.

“RocketSpace was the only company in the space we found that had a startup and corporate innovation focus. As our corporate innovation team worked directly with startups, it was ideal to have both facets of our roles all rolled into one!"

Diana Stepner, VP of Innovation Partnerships & Programs, Pearson
Diana Stepner

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