Maneuvering constellations of valuation: a critical investigation of the edtech startup sector

Mathias Decuypere*, Sigrid Hartong, Nina Brandau, Lucas Joecks, Anja Loft-Akhoondi, Carlos Ortegón, Toon Tierens, Lanze Vanermen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article provides a critical investigation of the edtech startup sector. Edtech startups are companies that are in the first stages of their operation and that seek to provide a newly developed edtech product or service to the education sector. To date, there is hardly any critical research present that seeks to disentangle what the characteristics and modes of operation of this sector are precisely. Through ethnographic research of an edtech startup summit, and by making use of a conceptual framework inspired by the field of valuation studies, the present article seeks to address that gap. Our analysis shows four interrelated constellations of valuations, namely valuations around temporality; expertise; reach; and pedagogical ideas. As we show, each constellation is characterized by various internal tensions, in which edtech startups (and startup investors) need to operate and (constantly re)maneuver themselves. This not only supports an empirical understanding of the edtech startup sector shaped by considerable complexities, contextualities, and ambiguities; it equally provides an analytical framework for nuancing contemporary edtech critique and future analysis of edtech practices.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • digital education
  • Edtech
  • governance
  • startup sector
  • valuation studies


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