Co-creation of EdTech solutions in teacher-EdTech-academy partnerships (EE)

About the Regional Innovation Hub

This Regional Innovation Hub was initiated by the needs of the researchers and policy authorities. The creation and scaling up of new EdTech solutions is often done in isolation – not necessarily responding to the needs of teachers’ classroom needs or incorporating research-based approaches. At the same time, there is a lack of understanding of how to bring together and support the different actors to co-create pedagogically meaningful and research-based EdTech solutions for Estonian schools and support teachers to use them in practice.

This Regional Hub brought together during three years (2020 – 2023): 16 Estonian EdTech StartUps and NGOs Startup Estonia and EdTech Estonia, 27 Estonian teachers as practitioners, 16 university mentors and experts and Ministry of Education and Research

Local context and the needs

EdTech companies have the potential to develop tools and services for educational institutions. However, to bridge the gap between practitioners’ needs and developed products, teachers need to be involved as end-users in the design process as well as researchers in evidence-based approaches and policy makers for real-life settings. The results of this Regional Innovation Hub are new, scalable, innovative educational solutions, which have been created in cooperation with end-users (teachers, learners, educational institutions), research institutions and experts and which are based on problems and needs in the educational system. To foster the development of evidence-based EdTech solutions, collaboration was initiated by the EdTech sector, recognizing the need for a collaborative platform that would bring together various stakeholders from academia, practitioners, and developers. Policy makers have been actively fostering collaboration with teachers to ensure their valuable input and insights are incorporated into the development process. Simultaneously, the EdTech sector has been supporting collaboration with start-ups, bringing innovative ideas and solutions to the table. Universities play a crucial role in this collaboration by leveraging their expertise to identify and engage experts and mentors. By forming this triangle of industry, teachers, and researchers, a diverse group of stakeholders is assembled, enabling the collaborative development of common solutions that address pedagogical practices.


EdTech companies or teams with an EdTech start-up idea who were ready to cooperate with researchers, teachers and learners were invited to apply to participate. The candidates were evaluated by an evaluation team consisting of researchers and experts, and selection for participation involves multiple criteria such as problem setting, clearly articulated change that technology enables, a clear idea of what technology to use to create the solution etc. Teachers and mentors were invited to participate personally and according to the needs and special requirements of the selected companies.

  • EdTech sector: Startup Estonia and EdTech Estonia have been involved as initiators, funders and supporters; EdTech companies have been providing the ideas for development, and teams and technology to carry those out.
  • Teachers as practitioners have been involved as end-users providing insights from educational institutions as well as testing and validating the solutions. Also giving access to the students for testing.
  • Students and parents have been testing and validating the solutions.
  • Expertsmentors: researchers from Tallinn University and Tartu University and also experts from the EdTech community have been involved as co-creators, counselors, testers, and validators. 
  • Policy makers: Ministry of Education and Research has been involved as supporter, initiator and funder.
Sustainability mechanisms of the Regional Innovation Hub
  • For teachers:

    • Certification and official recognition
    • Involvement of students to pilot new teaching and learning practices with innovativeEdTech solutions and enrich the learning process
    • Possibility to collaborate with the EdTech sector to facilitate project-based learning, entrepreneurship, gain insights into new technologies and start-up principles and be part in the development of EdTech solutions
    • Participation in workshops to gain new knowledge and skills
    • Possibility to expand networks and become members of the community.

    For students and parents:

    • Enriched learning process and the opportunity to engage in project-based and entrepreneurial learning thereby gaining insights into emerging technologies and the principles that drive startup culture.
    • Research-based EdTech solutions supporting learning process

    For companies:

    • Certification and official recognition for developing research-based EdTech solutions
    • Concept development and validation with researchers, experts and end-users
    • Shorter product development process due to the access to end-users
    • Strong reference and reliability for further growth and expansion
    • Development of knowledge and skills through workshops 
    • Possibility to expand networks and become members of the community.

    For university (researchers) and expert-mentors:

    • Knowledge transfer between academy and industry
    • Possible research settings to validate certain pedagogical approaches
    • Possible research topics for students
    • To test interventions in real-world settings
    • To wider the network and be a part of community

    For policy makers:

    • To accelerate educational innovation
    • To increase the evidence-based approaches as promoted in several national strategies
    • To wider the network
    • Capacity building opportunities: Joint in-person co-creation seminars with casual networking opportunities, reflection sessions and individual co-creation working time between team members; workshops and training with hands-on activities and collaborative problem solving
    • Joint projects: extended collaboration after the co-creation program between co-creation team members brought together; co-operation and continuation projects between university and EdTech companies. 
    • Opportunities to expand impact through recognized expertise: companies who have passed the program are recruited as mentors or experts during the program 
    • Access to personalized support and guidance: individual support from assigned mentor.
    • Knowledge sharing platforms: Shared Google Drive, WordPress-based blogs and homepage.
    • Access to network-disseminated materials: Access to all materials created through Google Drive shared folders.

In order to sustain and scale the community of EdTech-teacher-researcher, several things have been initiated:

  • Continuous collaboration between EdTech partners and the university (involvement in research interventions, projects for follow-up studies)
  • Usage of former EdTech representatives as trainers and/or mentors in the new iterations
  • Leadership and ownership developed by the university to further integrate the hub into the research agenda
  • Building a network of teachers and companies who are involved as experts and mentors in the co-creation process
  • Integration to researchers’ research interests and research agendas. 
  • Additional funding from NGO Startup Estonia and EdTech Estonia and Ministry of Education and Research