#Innovation — 06.09.2017

EdTech on the Edge… of Revolutionizing Education!

Sofia Merlo, Co-CEO of BNP Paribas Wealth Management

Technology is bringing huge opportunities to the world of education, and I believe that our wealth management clients have a role to play to accelerate this trend.

EdTech On The Edge... Of Revolutionizing Education!

Everyone knows how technology is affecting practically every aspect of our world: by 2020, more than 20.8 billion connected devices will be circulating around the globe (1).

But one of the newer and truly exciting opportunities where technology will have an impact is in the field of education, especially in what is now being called EdTech, using technology to expand access to education among under-served communities. The global EdTech market is forecast to grow by 17% from 2016 to 2020, to USD 252 bn. Such a figure is not a surprise if you consider that only 2% of the education market is currently digitised (2)! 

So what can EdTech bring to these communities? Just three examples: Virtual Reality (VR) helps students to explore time, geographies or data; Artificial Intelligence corrects mistakes and can act as an advisor; and finally, E-learning is evolving from single online training to a live remote class-room experience. EdTech will help to bring the school everywhere, including far-removed areas!

The Perfect Crossroads of Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy

So why do I think that wealth management clients have a role to play? Simply because the EdTech Market is at the crossroads of business and philanthropy, two key areas where wealth management clients are quite active. In our 2017 Philanthropy Report written with The Economist Intelligence Unit, EdTech is identified as one of the preferred sectors for young philanthropists and social entrepreneurs to invest in. If we focus on the wealthiest entrepreneurs as highlighted in our 2017 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, they identified “Developments in Education” as their first driver of change at 51%, above the “Communication Revolution” (46%) and “Population Growth” (42%).

At BNP Paribas Wealth Management, we’ve seen our clients over the past few years increasingly seeking positive impact on society and education is one way they can achieve this ambition. We have been accompanying and encouraging them through our philanthropic expertise since 2008, but also through our Sustainable & Responsible Investments (SRI). 

For example, in our Belgian Private Bank, we have committed to donate annually a part of the management fees of the “Venture Philanthropy” fund to the King Baudouin Foundation, which gave, two years ago, this sum to BedNet, an organization offering video-conference technology to help children with long-term diseases to access classrooms from the hospital. Thanks to this initiative, they can follow their lessons and maintain a link with their teachers and even stay in touch with their classmates during breaks! 

Our Belgian private banking & wealth management clients are really enthusiastic about this initiative, confirming Benjamin Franklin’s adage: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”


This positioning paper was first published on LinkedIn. Follow Sofia Merlo on social media: LinkedIn and Twitter 


(1) Source: Gartner 


(2) Source: EdTechX Global