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Case 04.09.2018

Kasvan makes learning transparent – in Finland, Singapore and beyond

One Finnish teacher’s reaction to the constantly increasing requirements for education and the lack of tools to bring pedagogical theory into practice sparked a business with global potential. Thanks to Team Finland network contacts, Kasvan could fast track their international plans and enter Singapore with the world’s largest K-12 education operator.
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Riku Mäkelä

Embassy of Finland, Singapore

Bringing new types of continuous assessment to the classrooms along with student-centered learning methods are key elements of modern education. In Finland, these goals are highlighted in the new curriculum issued in 2016 and Kasvan was born around the same time as the answer to concretely implementing the change into everyday practices.

"Our solution makes learning transparent and invests students in the planning and assessment of their personal learning while teachers can follow the progress and help the students in the right direction," says Kati Nevatalo, VP of Pedagogy at Kasvan.

The application's core lies in giving students the ownership of learning. In the application, the curriculum's content has been chopped into separate blocks that visualizes what the students should learn and why in a gamified manner. They can then add their own view of significant steps by building their personal portfolio.

Together with their teachers, every student thus forms their own path with methods that works for them and that build on their interests. Furthermore, the peer review function develops self-assessment capabilities and supports the children in finding their own strengths.

"The students automatically learn how to evaluate themselves, which reflects back to the modern pedagogics and the Finnish curriculum where assessment has a central role in boosting learning results," says Samuel Salmenlinna, CEO of the company.

Kasvan product teacher Patrick Holt introduces the Finnish application to Singaporean students.

A born global Finnish business

Nevatalo originally invented the service for her own work but it soon became clear that there were many more facing the same challenges with implementing the new education goals – within and outside the Finnish borders.

In October 2017, the beta-version of the application was launched and in December, Kasvan signed a pilot agreement with the city of Helsinki making the app available to all of the schools in Helsinki. Around the same time, the huge demand gave reason to immediately try on more markets.

"I decided to contact an old friend at Business Finland who directed me to Riku Mäkelä at the Embassy in Singapore," says Salmenlinna. "He immediately believed in the potential of our service and arranged for us to take part in interesting events in Singapore."

The company attended Slush Singapore in September 2017 as well as a simultaneously held education event organized under the umbrella of the Finland 100 celebrations. This was the first time the company met GEMS World Academy Singapore and the promising start made Kasvan revisit the country a month later – this time to join the Finland 100 stand at the EdTechXAsia Expo.

"Thanks to Riku's good contacts with GEMS, they visited the booth and we got a chance to introduce our solution to them," says Salmenlinna. "They right away told us that if this is true they want to pilot it as there is no doubt it will boost learning results."

In March 2018, the project was activated and the application is now developed to include the widely used IB-curriculum. The co-operation with the prestigious private school chain therefore opens up many more potential doors and has already lead to another pilot with a Singaporean school.

Boosted by Business Finland funding and international contacts

After the success in Singapore, Kasvan continued the co-operation with Business Finland by approving for Tempo and product development funding. Salmenlinna is happy with the versatile support and emphasizes the importance of having a personal contact in Singapore that could introduce them to their first international partner.

The future looks bright for the young startup and the next step will be to continue the expansion by adding also the British curriculum and the American Common Core standards to the application with the help of GEMS and other potential partners. In five years, Kasvan could be used in all of the big markets worldwide.

"I believe that Kasvan has great potential to become the first Finnish edtech company to exceed a hundred million in turnover," says Riku Mäkelä at the Finnish Embassy in Singapore. "The application answers to a demand were there is no similar alternatives available and it is scalable for personal learning based on all the global curriculums."

The online tool is globally scalable.