New MEIF funding for University of Birmingham students to develop tech platform

Three University of Birmingham students have raised £800,000 in funding to commercialise a new tech platform aimed at helping teachers to cut the time taken to mark maths and science papers.

Called ‘Graide’, it arose from a PhD thesis written by Robert Stanyon who, along with his co-developers Manjinder Kainth and George Bartlett, recognised the need for the system while working as teaching assistants during their post-graduate studies.

The tech is aimed at higher education institutions and can be used to mark both coursework and exam papers for ‘STEM’ subjects. Developers claim it can not only assess the final answers but also a student’s workings.

The system, which incorporates artificial intelligence, learns an assessor’s marking style so they do not have to grade the same answer twice and, as the assessor works through the paper, Graide automates more and more of the feedback.

The development team estimates the system can reduce grading times by an average of 89 per cent while giving students seven times as much feedback. Graide is already being piloted at six universities in the UK.



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The developers set up a company called 6 Bit Education to commercialise the software and are now based on Birmingham Research Park on the university’s campus in Edgbaston.

The funding will enable it to grow its team by two new members of staff and add new features to the platform.

The capital has come mainly from the Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Henley-in-Arden firm Mercia and forms part of the wider Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

Additional funding has been provided by Mercia’s own EIS funds and private angel investors.

As part of the investment, Andrew Doyle has been appointed as chairman of 6 Bit Education while Tony Austwick joins as an adviser.

Both have significant experience in early and growth stage technology companies and the education sector.

Mr Kainth said: “Providing high-quality feedback is essential for students but it is time-consuming to deliver and can be plagued by inconsistencies. Graide addresses this challenge.

“This investment will accelerate our traction by increasing the size of our commercial team.

“It will also fund some exciting features on the product roadmap that could see Graide extend from science and maths departments to roll out across the whole campus.”

Mercia’s investment manager Kiran Mehta added: “Manjinder and the team have done an excellent job building a product that increases staff efficiency while generating a strong sales pipeline at home and carrying out early market exploration in the US.

“It’s been a pleasure supporting the team to bring in this significant investment and to enhance the strategic direction of the business. I look forward to working with the enlarged 6 Bit team on the next stage of their growth journey.”

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