Three former Birmingham University students who developed software to evaluate STEM coursework have raised £ 800,000 to help expand their business.

Funding came from angel investors, the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), which is managed by Mercia – a specialist manager with 19 university partnerships – and Mercia’s own investment scheme.

The software – known as Graide – is the result of a PhD thesis written by Birmingham graduate Robert Stenon. He, along with developers Manger Kent and George Bartlett, recognized the need for the system while working as postgraduate assistants.

According to developers, technology reduces teachers’ time to determine mathematics and science by 89%. It is being tested at six universities.

Graide is targeted at higher education institutions and can be used to assess both coursework and examination papers in STEM subjects.

The system, which includes artificial intelligence, studies the style of evaluations so that they do not have to evaluate the same answer twice. As the evaluator works on the document, Grade automates more and more feedback.

The developers have also set up a company to commercialize the software.

6 Bit Education is based in Birmingham Research Park on the campus of the University of Birmingham. Funding will allow the team to expand by creating two new jobs as well as adding new features to the platform.

As part of the investment, Mercia introduced two edtech specialists from its network of non-executive directors.

Andrew Doyle was appointed chairman and Tony Oswick advised. Both have significant experience working in technology companies in the early stages and in the education sector.

Manger Kint, CEO of 6 Bit Education, said: “Providing quality feedback is very important for students, but it is time consuming and can be caused by inconsistencies. Grad solves this problem.

“These investments will accelerate our drive by increasing the size of our commercial team. It will also fund some exciting features in the product roadmap that could see Grad expand from science and math faculties to deploy across campus. ”

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund and Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund projects are financially supported by the European Union through funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Program for 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

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