£500K Investment Secured by Portfolio Company Learning Labs

Learning Labs allows schools to deliver EAL teaching easily.

Learning Labs Limited to use the finance boost to increase product development in the school and workplace education sectors.

Birmingham-based language technology firm, Learning Labs Limited, has secured a £500,000 investment to ramp up product development and establish itself in new markets.

The investment round includes finance from some existing investors and £250,000 from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) Equity Finance Fund, managed by venture capital firm Midven.

Established in 2013 by Veejay Lingiah and Richard Allen, Learning Labs originally developed FlashSticks®, a unique language learning system based on 3M’s Post-it Notes.

Sold in more than 500 WHSmith outlets nationwide at launch, the system was supported by Learning Lab’s interactive software platform, FlashAcademy®.

FlashAcademy® enables users to learn English from 45 different home languages. The software also allows users to learn any new language from each of the home languages, providing approximately 2,000 different language learning permutations. This means that while a student can learn English from Spanish, they can also learn French from Spanish, French from Urdu, and so on, from the platform.

While FlashAcademy® is primarily used in the education sector, Learning Labs is currently in the beta phase of developing FlashAcademy®Workplace. This has been developed in close collaboration with The Manufacturing Association, MAKE UK and large corporations such as Jaguar Land Rover and BAM Construction. The new platform creates language bridging solutions for migrant workforces.

Veejay Lingiah, Co-founder of Learning Labs, said:

“This investment through Midven and MEIF will enable the business to support the tremendous growth and development that we are seeing with FlashAcademy®.”

“Within the last few weeks, we have seen an upsurge of more than 20,000 new students being added to the platform as schools and colleges seek out engaging distance learning solutions to maintain learning progress during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“As the education sector continues to adapt to the changing landscape brought upon by the pandemic, the Learning Labs team are working to full capacity in order to help enable young people to successfully learn from home in the same way as most of us are working from home.”

Giovanni Finocchio, Investment Director at Midven said:

“Learning Labs is a great addition to our MEIF portfolio. The company has seen a marked increase in the number of schools and pupils benefiting from FlashAcademy®. By engaging the pupils, the platform helps ensure that they are completing the curriculum while improving their language proficiency.

“The importance of this is more prevalent than ever before as a prime concern for pupils during the COVID-19 lockdown is that they may fall behind in their curriculum. Platforms like FlashAcademy® help manage the learning demands of pupils in this fast evolving climate.

“This round of investment will help Learning Labs further develop its platform and allow its reach to extend towards corporate learning. Learning Labs is following its product development roadmap, increasing sales month-on-month and demonstrating that its future is bright.

“The EdTech sector is vibrant and fast moving. We believe Learning Labs will be a key positive force in this market for years to come.”

Grant Peggie, Director at the British Business Bank, said:

“It is good to see businesses like Learning Labs adapting and innovating during these challenging times. This latest investment round, supported by the MEIF, will enable the company to develop language software products and move into new markets. The MEIF continues to invest in Midlands’ businesses and we would encourage other firms to consider whether the Fund can support their financing requirements.”

Pat Hanlon, Director for Access to Finance at GBSLEP, said:

“Learning Labs has a great track record for innovation and has had impressive success already, so we’re looking forward to seeing the company continue to thrive and provide its services in new markets.

“Birmingham and the West Midlands is home to a hugely diverse population where multiple languages are spoken every day, and to see plans in place to link up with big business in the region to help further the skillsets of its workforce is an idea with great potential.”

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.


About the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF)

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund will invest in Debt Finance, Small Business Loans, Proof of Concept and Equity Finance funds, ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity.

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and British Business Finance Limited, a British Business Bank group company.

The MEIF covers the following LEP areas: Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, The Marches, and Worcestershire in the West Midlands; and Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Greater Lincolnshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, and South East Midlands in the East Midlands.

The project is receiving up to £78,550,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

The funds in which Midlands Engine Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in, the West Midlands and East & South East Midlands.

The British Business Bank has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). The guide, which impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses and provides links to support available at a regional level, is available at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb


About Learning Labs Limited

Learning Labs Limited was founded in 2013 by Veejay Lingiah and Richard Allen when they co-invented FlashSticks® language Post-it® notes. Originally found in WHSmiths across the UK, FlashSticks® can now be found all over the world.

The company then developed the FlashAcademy® platform which enables pupils to learn English as an Additional Language (EAL) from 45 different home languages, Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) and develops literacy skills.

Learning Labs work closely with schools to ensure that students are appropriately engaged and empowered to learn. The team does this by collaborating with experienced primary and secondary school teachers with their team of passionate multilinguists to ensure that the pedagogy and future needs of schools are met.


About Midven

For more than 25 years, leading Birmingham-based venture capital firm Midven has been supporting Midlands SMEs, investing more than £60m into the region and raising £200m co-investment into their portfolio. Midven’s ‘more than money’ approach helps to build strong and successful companies and support businesses every step of the way. Midven continues to extend its reach to invest in the Midland’s most ambitious entrepreneurs through its recent appointment to manage the £35 million equity portion of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), as well as the launch of the firm’s first Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) fund. For more information about Midven, please visit www.midven.co.uk.


About the British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is the UK government’s economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Its remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.

The British Business Bank programmes are supporting more than £7.2bn of finance to over 93,000 smaller businesses (as at end of September 2019).

As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses:

  • The Business Finance Guide (published in partnership with the ICAEW and a further 21 business and finance organisations) impartially sets out the range of finance options available to businesses at all stages – from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies. Businesses can take the interactive journey at thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb.
  • The new British Business Bank Finance Hub provides independent and impartial information to high-growth businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success. The new site also features case studies and learnings from real businesses to guide businesses through the process of applying for growth finance.

As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, British Business Bank plc is wholly owned by HM Government and is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, none of which are authorised and regulated by the FCA.

British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found on the British Business Bank plc website.


The Learning Labs Limited:

Veejay Lingiah




Drew Craythorne, Digital Glue

0121 389 2784