BridgeU raises £4 million for world class university and careers guidance

We're excited to bring you the news of our recent fundraise, and tell you how we're planning to improve BridgeU for our partner schools.

In August, BridgeU closed a £4m Series A investment round led by Octopus Ventures, with support from Fresco Capital and Downing Ventures. We are excited to share this news as it enables us to double down on our efforts to build an even more powerful university and careers guidance service for our students, teachers and schools around the world.

Raising capital allows us to invest heavily in our people, our platform, and our schools’ priorities.

BridgeU will continue to hire best in class data scientists, engineers and partnership associates. We will be setting up more local offices so that we can meet schools where you are. We will continue to enhance our support and customer success functions so that every BridgeU customer benefits immensely from our training and resources.

Raising capital allows us to to continually improve BridgeU for the people who benefit from its use.

Our new website is crucial to this mission. Not only are we able to show you more of what BridgeU can do, but we’ve also redesigned our resources page to bring you breaking news from the world of education, to help shed light on on the complex and evolving dynamics of the global higher education landscape, sharing insight into how schools and universities around the world are tackling the challenges of preparing the students of today for the world of tomorrow.

We believe there’s a problem facing schools and young people

Higher education has undergone a rapid change in the past decades. Yet, the fundamental practice of university and careers guidance has neither evolved to reflect these shifts, nor changed to meet the developing needs of industry.  Students frequently make higher education decisions in a vacuum, leading to high dropout rates and poor skills alignment with emerging labour market opportunities.

Underemployment amongst recent graduates – whereby young people graduate with degrees or skills which leave them with employment opportunities that don’t fully exploit their potential  – is on the rise. And meanwhile, global demand for skilled workers is outstripping supply, with McKinsey predicting that by 2020, there could be a shortage of 40 million employees with the right qualifications. There exists a problematic discrepancy between what industry looks for in graduates, and the ways in which we prepare young people to develop their post-secondary skills and to ultimately enter the workforce.

Students are faced with a more complex and fragmented landscape of post-secondary opportunities than ever before. Traditional approaches to guidance fail to make sense of this landscape. “At BridgeU, we’re dedicated to building a solution which empowers schools to prepare the students of today for the world of tomorrow” said Lucy Stonehill, our co-founder and CEO. “In a world where 65% of students in primary school will eventually find employment in jobs that don’t currently exist, helping young people to make informed decisions from the ages of 14-24 is critically important.”

How can BridgeU help global schools?

With BridgeU, students build a personal profile, incorporating data on subject interests, grades, social, professional and learning preferences. The BridgeU matching algorithm cross-references a vast database of historical admissions data points to generate university and course recommendations that are personalised to the preferences and strengths of each individual. BridgeU’s application tools help students build compelling university applications, and enable teaching staff to manage and track progression throughout the guidance process, assign tasks, collaborate on references and submit applications and supporting files for students.

BridgeU integrates with leading school and curriculum management systems to facilitate seamless transfer of data and efficient teacher interactions across school systems. The platform enables schools to track performance and admissions trends, and performs analysis to provide teachers and senior leaders with powerful insights. With the passing of each admissions cycle, BridgeU uses machine learning to weave results back into its matching algorithm which improves the overall solution. In a traditionally opaque decision-making environment, BridgeU lifts the lid on how universities admit applicants, and empowering schools with this insight.

“We invested in BridgeU because there is a clear need to bring efficiency and transparency to the university application process,” said Allison Baum, managing partner at Fresco Capital. “BridgeU is a very compelling opportunity sitting at the intersection of a micro customer need driving short term adoption, and a key macroeconomic trend.”

What’s next?

In May 2017, we announced our partnership with ManageBac, the world’s leading Curriculum First learning platform, which serves 4 in 5 International Baccalaureate Diploma students worldwide. The partnership enhances access to university and careers guidance for IB students, allowing them to explore, discover, and manage their post-secondary school careers.

In the coming weeks, we will also launch our modern, adaptive Careers planner. This will enable students to discover and explore a vast array of job families and industries, all the while learning about how real time changes in labour markets could impact their choices. The Careers tool has been produced in partnership with Burning Glass Technologies, which is powered by the world’s largest and most sophisticated database of jobs and talent, and will help BridgeU students frame higher education decisions within the wider context of transitioning into adulthood.

Since BridgeU was founded, our team has grown to 40 people, and we work with schools in over 50 countries. The new funding, which will also support team growth, will allow BridgeU to carry on  adding to its product offering, further developing the platform around the needs of schools and young people. The funding round enables BridgeU to continue fundamentally improving the way schools deliver university and careers guidance to young people, helping students to bridge the gap between school and the future.

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