The Education Technology cluster in Oregon provides products (both hardware and software) and services that focus on early childhood education, assessment tools, educational content, and back-end school support software. The core customer base consists of individual schools, school districts and private education companies, roughly 80% of whom are in the PreK-12 market.

Note: The information on this page was provided by the Northwest Education Cluster.

 Industry Overview

The Education Technology cluster includes e-learning businesses, content providers, testing and evaluation services, and learning management system authors. Most of the cluster’s members are located in the Portland metro area, but some are also located in Eugene, Salem and Southwest Washington. A study conducted in 2008 found that the majority of member companies derive more than 80% of their revenue from outside of Oregon, making this a true traded-sector cluster.

Cluster Organizations

Founded in 2003, the Northwest Education Cluster currently has over 350 members representing more than 60 different companies. The NWEC’s mission is to provide an effective forum in which members can identify shared needs, address common challenges, consolidate resources, recruit talent and build strong relationships with the educational community.

The cluster’s largest member is the Knowledge Learning Corporation, a childcare and learning provider headquartered in Portland that has over 41,000 employees and revenue in excess of $1.6 billion. The Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) and Insight Schools both employ more than 200 people. Other notable companies in the cluster include, Avant Assessment, Vernier, ViaTraining, Engaging Every Student and Clarity Innovations.

Members meet quarterly to share information about each other’s businesses, discover synergies, and explore the potential of the education/training industry as an economic driver for the region. Membership is free and open to any company in Oregon or southwest Washington that provides education-related products and services.

The cluster’s group on LinkedIn has over 200 members drawn not only from Oregon, but also from cities around the United States (Seattle, San Francisco, Orlando, New York) and several foreign countries (China, Korea, the United Kingdom).

Education Technology By the Numbers

Firm Count: 57 (2011)

Industry Earnings: Over $2 billion in total revenue (2011)

Cluster Employment: 2000+ (2011)

In 2011 the cluster published an economic impact study for the long-term economic potential of Education Technology in Oregon. (Click here to read the full report.)

Cluster Strengths

  • Oregonians tend to be progressive, well-educated and internationally-focused, with a strong interest in small business, community and collaboration.
  • Education entrepreneurs appreciate the open, creative atmosphere in Oregon, as well as the state’s emphasis on education and lifelong learning.
  • The region is home to numerous high technology companies, including clusters in semiconductors and electronic components, IT/software and environmental technology.
  • Oregon universities are graduating growing numbers of scientists and engineers.
  • The cluster benefits from partnerships with many Oregon universities.

Cluster Challenges

  • Small education technology companies find it challenging to access start-up funding and resources; larger, more mature companies find it challenging to access venture capital—especially in comparison to the state of Washington.
  • Access to Oregon’s K-12 education market is a major challenge for the cluster’s organizations, most of whom receive less than 15% of their revenue from Oregon schools and school districts.
  • Companies in the cluster have trouble finding qualified executives in Oregon with which to staff their organizations.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Clarity Innovations is growing and has almost doubled its size this year.
  • Avant Assessment opened a Portland Office in 2012 adding 20 Portland people to this Eugene based language assessment provider.

Key Initiatives

  • Encourage new investment in the cluster by improving access to venture and seed capital.
  • Create a strong mentoring program between established Education Technology firms and newer, smaller firms seeking to grow.
  • Identify, promote, and participate in opportunities that bring the education technology community together with its potential customers, including parents, teachers, schools, school districts and universities.
  • Raise the visibility of the Northwest Education Cluster by identifying and developing relationships with associations, nonprofit groups and private sector agencies in Oregon who share a passion for education and technology.
  • Sponsor workshops for members focused on such topics as:
    • Identifying and applying for funding sources
    • Finding and recruiting talent
    • Building mutually-beneficial relationships with the education community in Oregon

Cluster Contact

Jim Snyder

Northwest Education Cluster