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City & Guilds Group announces investment in HT2 Labs as part of New Venture Fund

HT2 Labs is the latest company to receive investment from the City & Guilds Group’s £2.5 million New Venture Fund, which was set up to support technology-driven companies with the potential to make a significant impact in global skills and workforce development.

HT2 Labs is the research and development company for workplace digital learning  Working alongside businesses and educational institutions such as Xerox, InterContinental Hotels Group and City & Guilds, HT2 Labs’’ research has led to the development of new products that help make learning more personal, more social and more measurable.

HT2 Labs’ products include Learning Locker, the Open Source Learning Record Store, and Curatr, the Social Learning Platform. Driven by big data and large-scale text analytics, these systems combine to create powerful online learning environments that allow organisations to measure the extent of behavioural change seen during learning programmes.

Since raising an initial seed funding round in 2013, HT2 Labs has grown significantly, doubling revenues year-on-year. The New Venture Fund has now taken the lead on HT2 Labs’ Series A round, with a commitment to further growth funding in the near future, for a minority equity stake. HT2 Labs will use the funding to bring intelligent informal learning to mainstream corporate use through a new product,Red Panda, and to expand operations in the UK and USA. 

The City & Guilds Group has previously worked with HT2 Labs to build the City & Guilds TechBac™ online platform which combines technical qualifications with a workplace skills programme for 14-19 year olds.

Commenting on the investment, John Yates, New Ventures Director, City & Guilds Group said: City & Guilds Group colleagues have been working with Ben and HT2 Labs for some time. We know that the team are highly motivated and share our commitment to supporting learning – we share a common real-life research agenda to create solutions that businesses need to improve the performance of their staff and teams. We’re particularly excited to support the development of a powerful, insightful learning analytic engine, and the delivery of informal, social learning to corporate markets. HT2 is nimble; as a company it listens closely to its customers, and responds quickly and intelligently. We’re delighted to be able to formalise our collaboration.

Ben Betts, CEO of HT2 Labs said: ‘This is a tremendously exciting time to be working at HT2 Labs. The success and growth of our products has attracted a great deal of investor attention, but it has been with John Yates and his team at the New Venture Fund that we’ve seen the greatest synergies. Whilst this investment is primarily focused towards accelerating our already rapid growth, we stand to inherit a range of wonderful secondary benefits from working with the City & Guilds Group as it seeks to tackle the skills gap with smart data and technology. We will expand our UK headquarters in Oxford, from 15 to more than 30 people over the next 18 months, whilst also doubling down on our new US office in Boston, which has been a great success for us since opening in January.’

As part of the investment, the City & Guilds Group’s Chief Technology Officer, Sven Laux will be joining HT2 Labs Board of Directors. ‘We have worked with Sven for a number of years,’ commented Ben Betts, ‘first benefitting from his advice and guidance as we released our Learning Record Store, Learning Locker, as Open Source Software. To bring Sven on to our Board of Directors not only formalises this arrangement but paves the way for deeper integration between our two companies, especially when it comes to Learning Analytics and Big Data.’

Sven Laux added: ‘I am delighted to join the HT2 Labs Board and am looking forward to working with such a dynamic and innovative company. I am particularly excited about exploring the possibilities of the use of data analytics in learning, and advancing the already very well established learning platforms at HT2 Labs.’

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