Pearson Partners with MaRS as Publishing Giant Looks to Stave off Disruption

Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District has formed a new partnership with publishing giant Pearson, the company announced on Monday.

The deal will see the Pearson work directly with education technology startups that are supported by the innovation hub.

“At Pearson, we believe that technology innovation has the power to enable and scale transformation at all levels of the system. We are seeing shifts in curriculum design, instructional effectiveness, assessment, instructional resources and services and start-up thinking is helping to fuel those changes,” said Dan Lee, CEO of Pearson Canada in a press release. “I am very excited to partner with MaRS to expand the potential of start-ups who are focused on developing new and measureable approaches to teaching and learning.”

The partnership will allow ed-tech startups to access training and research information from Pearson and open the door to collaborations between the company and MaRS-supported startups.

This isn’t the first time Pearson has looked to work with tech startups to help keep its business ahead of the curve—and avoid the disruption that’s impacted much of the publishing industry.

The company has its own startup accelerator and has formed partnerships with ed-tech startups like Toronto’s Top Hat and New York-based Knewton.

Pearson has also acquired a number of tech companies over the past few years, including Learning Catalytics and EmbaNetCompass.

But it’s not just startups; the company has also acquired established companies as it looks to further diversify its brand, moving away from being a traditional textbook publisher and working to position itself as “learning company.” The day after it announced its partnership with MaRS, Pearson announced that it had acquired Brazilian language teaching company Grupo Multi for approximately $872 million.

The MaRS deal could be particularly fertile for Pearson, ed-tech is one of the hubs’ primary practices – with over 175 sartups in its ed-tech cluster.

“Having the Pearson team involved in our community will enable us to accelerate the adoption of innovation within our education systems,” said Krista Jones, MaRS’ Edtech Cluster Lead. “We’re thrilled to partner with them as a tremendous resource for our startups.”

The deal with Pearson isn’t the only big announcement to come out of MaRS in the past couple days.

On Tuesday, MaRS announced that Smart Energy Instruments, one of the companies in its cleantech practice unveiled the first component of a chipset to make electrical grids more reliable, developed with Japan’s Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation

The same day, the non-profit’s CEO, Ilse Treurnicht was named one of the most powerful women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network.