A technology company which helps people learn English has secured new investment. Birmingham-based Learning Labs is behind the FlashAcademy app which is used by schools and colleges across the UK to teach English as a second language.
The company, which is based at the Innovation Birmingham tech campus, has now secured £250,000 in fresh funding which will be used to create new jobs and expand its digital marketing department.
FlashAcademy can translate objects from almost 50 different languages via smartphones, tablets and computers, both in a classroom or remote learning.
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The app uses a mix of digital lessons, games and a service where the user can take a photo of any object and receive a translation, both in a generic sense, such as a handbag, but also its colour and material.
The software, which is developed and built in house, is currently being used in almost 1,000 schools across the UK and is supporting more than 250,000 individual learners, including corporate clients helping migrant workers overcome language barriers.
The idea for the business stemmed from co-founder Richard Allen’s experiences when he travelled abroad for work and would put sticky notes on his hotel room’s walls with Spanish translations.
Founded in 2013, Learning Labs initially brought out a series of these notes in partnership with renowned stationery brand Post-it, known as FlashSticks, which contained graphics of everyday objects coupled with a translation and phonetic pronunciation. These were picked up by well-known retailers such as WH Smith, Staples and Tesco.
The business later went digital by launching FlashAcademy and it has won multiple awards, including Innovation in Education at our 2018 West Midlands Tech Awards.
Co-founder and chief executive Veejay Lingiah said: “We believe that every child and young person across the UK deserves to be getting the best from their education experience.
“Our product supports teachers in unlocking the potential of non-native-speaking students without the need for time and budget resources that many schools and colleges do not have.”
This new round of capital came from part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, managed by FSE Group and backed by the Recovery Loan Scheme and follows a similar funding round in 2020 which raised £500,000.
Harriet Saunders, portfolio manager at FSE Group, added: “Learning Labs has been on a high-growth trajectory since creating its English as an additional language offering in 2018.
“Having already attracted significant equity investment, its management was keen not to dilute ownership with further equity at this stage.
“We are delighted to provide this market-leading business with the growth funding needed to support it through this next phase of growth and look forward to working with this innovative team.”