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Under the theme, “Conversations for Innovations: The Private Sector and ‘Next Education’”, the Inter-American Development Bank and Concordia will bring together the brightest minds of the private, public, and nonprofit sectors from across the world. A smaller, more intimate gathering, the event will serve as a means to shape and reshape global and regional education agendas. The conversation will focus on private sector engagement and financing for a better and well-educated workforce.

Education has traditionally been in the realm of the public and nonprofit sectors, but that is beginning to change. In recent years, there has been a growing understanding that the private sector has a big stake in the ability of the education system to produce a quality workforce. A growing gap between the skills graduates possess and the skills employers demand signifies the urgency of rethinking our education systems. To date, this motivation has already translated into increased monetary investment in education systems, but more importantly into the investment of ideas and new perspectives in the field. Still, there is undoubtedly much more work to be done. This fact sheet highlights a few developments, initiatives, and trends that have occurred in the emerging field of private sector investment in education.


  • A high-profile source of innovation has been the U.S. Government’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign. The main premise of this effort is that CEOs and business leaders have to invest in America’s education, the initiative has already led to new strategies for investment in Science, Technology, and Math (STEM), and new funding sources to implement these strategies.
  • The U.S. Department of Education’s “Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund” awards over $150 million given in annual grants for new models and ideas about improving education. Many of these grants involve cross-sector collaboration, and more crucially, all grantees are set up to then receive continuing private funding after their public grants expire.
  • In Latin America, the World Economic Forum just profiled 15 innovative public-private development initiatives that promise to change the way Latin Americans countries think about education. These innovations range from new scholarship models in Brazil to vocational training programs in Colombian schools, to a partnership between Cornell University and the Panamanian government and much more. It appears that many Latin American governments are increasingly looking to the private sector for ideas to reform their education sectors.
  • South Korean and Singaporean universities are leading the way in a new trend of university/corporate research partnerships. A recent examination by Times Higher Educationfound that globally, South Korea and Singapore rank 1st and 2nd, respectively, in university researchers attracting investment from the private sector. These partnerships are mutually beneficial as researchers gain access to more funding and companies gain access to greater technological and research capacities.
  • In international development, public-private collaborations have led to the development of “schools-in-a-box” which allow high-quality education to reach remote sections of the world much easier than ever before. These solar-powered virtual schools are currently bringing around-the-clock education materials to rural Ugandan villages, and UNICEF is planning to scale up the program in the coming months.