Project Literacy Lab: Not Your Regular Corporate Accelerator

Highlights from our literacy innovation Lab

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Project Literacy Lab

Nearly three years ago, Pearson set out on a journey to support rapid growth ventures to help close the global literacy gap by 2030. The Project Literacy Lab programme is a partnership between Pearson and the Unreasonable Group, as part of the broader Project Literacy campaign.

We have scoured the globe for mission-driven entrepreneurs and companies with ethics and innovative problem-solving at their core. Twenty nine ventures headquartered across five continents participated in our 2016 (California) and 2017 (Connecticut) accelerator programmes. They are collectively reaching over 18 million users in 120+ countries with combined revenue of $58 million. We have been working closely with these entrepreneurs to align them with the resources, mentorship, access to financing, and the global network of support needed to help them scale faster.

In 2018, we have been focusing on the best performing companies that are part of the Lab portfolio by connecting them with investors and Pearson mentors and, for the first time, we are testing a Literacy Prototyping Fund through which selected Lab companies will receive grants to develop collaborations that will help them scale their reach and impact faster.

Some of Project Literacy Lab highlights include:

- After the 2016 programme, the customer base across the cohort increased from 4.5 million to over 11 million in just one year. Total revenue has increased by over 80% and total funding by 185%. The 2017 programme results will be released in December.

- Four Lab companies have been partnering with Pearson in the US, UK and India. One example is Lab company Guru-G that has closed a contract with Pearson India for designing a new professional development platform for teachers. Another example is Cell-Ed, which provides bite-sized literacy training through mobile phones, and it is piloting a program with Pearson North America’s Accelerate team to offer no cost education to Brinker International’s (owner of Chili’s and Maggiano’s) employees through a mobile optimised solution.

- We have been collaborating with companies and individuals that are at the forefront of innovation and future thinking to help us run the accelerator and connect our entrepreneurs to leading edge ideas and tools. Lab past mentors came from the likes of Singularity University, IDEO, LinkedIn, and PepsiCo. We have also partnered with Orange and SAP innovation centres in San Francisco and New York to run some of the programme mentoring events.

In 2016, Pearson launched the Lab to bet on hyper-growth entrepreneurs and the results are, not only encouraging, but show a clear trend and widespread understanding that entrepreneurs are a key part of the solution to some of our biggest global issues. Last year, Nesta published a report showing that of the 163 accelerator programmes in the UK, over half are now funded or sponsored by corporates, up from just 26 in 2014.

Project Literacy Lab is not your regular corporate accelerator, this is large scale problem-solving and it shows us that when it comes to tackling a complex global issue such as illiteracy, we need everyone to join in and be part of the solution.

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