Michigan’s Social Venture Fund Invests in Querium, Austin Edtech Firm

Austin—Edtech startup Querium has received an early stage bridge round of funds from the University of Michigan’s Social Venture Fund, among other investors.

Querium, which uses artificial intelligence to provide students with step-by-step coaching in math, science, and engineering courses, raised $366,000 of a $720,000 convertible note from 10 investors. The Social Venture Fund, a student-led fund at Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, contributed $50,000.

“Given Social Venture Fund’s mission, this investment is a strong validation of the work Querium is doing to help students hit their STEM education milestones and start college on the right foot,” Kent Fuka, Querium’s founder and CEO, said in a press release.

Students receive real-time grading and coaching that mimic a live tutoring experience through smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. Austin, TX-based Querium collects 20 pieces of data including types of errors made from student entries, which helps teachers understand where and why students make mistakes so that they may better tailor their lesson plans to provide more personalized instruction. For the Michigan fund, Querium fulfills its goals because of the potential social impact Querium can have by improving high school test scores and helping community college students avoid costly and remedial STEM courses.

Querium is one of a small edtech startup cluster that has grown in the Texas capital in the shadow of the University of Texas at Austin, one of the nation’s largest public universities. Among them are firms like Civitas Learning, which sells data analytics software to higher education institutions designed to help students make better curriculum and degree decisions. Last September, New York-based Warburg Pincus led an investment round of up to $60 million in the startup.

Aceable has put driver’s education online and, in January 2014, Blackboard bought MyEdu, a free online platform where students can create profiles that highlight their coursework, job experience, and skills in Pinterest-like boxes.

For Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute, which houses the Michigan Social Venture Fund, Querium matches the fund’s mission for social betterment.

“As an institution whose mission it is to improve lives through learning, we understand the potential Querium has to change the world through education,” he said in a press statement.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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