Game-based learning app GraphoGame raises funds on Folkeinvest to end illiteracy globally

Illiteracy affects at least 763 million adults who cannot read and write, two thirds of them women, and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills worldwide, according to UNESCO.

The consequence of illiteracy affects the individual’s economic prospects, participation in society, and are more likely to depend on social welfare programs. It also has a far-reaching impact on families and entire communities as well.

Illiteracy is not limited to the inability to read, write, and count; it also involves other skills that can be applied in daily life and are on a continuum of learning and proficiency building. In today’s digital age, literacy such as digital skills and media literacy becomes ever more important to navigate a fast-changing and information-rich world.

Launching in Norway

GraphoGame was conceived during the Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Dyslexia (JLD) following 108 newborns with a familial risk for dyslexia since 1993. Their results identified cognitive predictors that researchers used to develop an educational computer game. According to the International Dyslexia Association, around 700 million persons worldwide suffer a form of dyslexia.

The game-based learning app, GraphoGame launched in 2020 has now 5 million downloads and 14 researched language versions, including Norwegian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, and many more. All have undergone thorough academic research before launch. Their distribution in Brazil, France, Norway, and Finland remains their market lead.

Illiteracy is a global issue that is also growing in the Nordic countries. According to UNESCO, the cost of illiteracy in Norway alone is over NOK 63 billion annually. Although, illiteracy is not seen as a massive problem in Norway, there are still a small number of children who struggle with acquiring fundamental reading and writing skills, according to GraphoGame.

GraphoGame wants to break barriers, by leveling the playing field for all learners, including those with learning difficulties or diverse linguistic backgrounds; promoting a more inclusive education.

Traditional assessments and tests may not identify struggling readers. Early intervention is crucial, but teachers often lack research-based tools to effectively support students who are facing difficulties in their early education. These difficulties can hinder their overall educational and personal growth.

After three years of development in collaboration with the University of Stavanger, GraphoGame is launching its first product specifically designed for schools in the upcoming fall. The City of Oslo will be their first customer to purchase GraphoGame Norsk along with the GraphoGame Teacher Platform. The latter will help to identify first-grade students who may be at risk of reading and writing difficulties. This innovative approach incorporates GraphoGame and machine learning algorithms to detect hidden clues that may indicate risk factors.

Photo: GraphoGame

Backed by 20 Years of Research

GraphoGame methodology has been researched and developed in Finland for almost 20 years. It has proven to be a game-changer for children facing learning difficulties.

GraphoGame has now been developed and approved by scientists from over 30 universities. The research has been peer-reviewed in over 300 scientific publications and 18 PhD thesis papers. GraphoGame is endorsed by researchers from prestigious universities worldwide, including the University of Cambridge, Yale, the University of Stavanger, AIX-Marseille, and Beijing Normal.

Together with A Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), GraphGame was launched in Brazil. A study of the Portuguese version of GraphoGame among Brazilian students showed that after a month of intervention, a group of struggling second graders displayed spelling and phonological awareness skills similar to a control group. There are over 2 million downloads in Brazil.

Raising funds through Folkeinvest

GraphoGame is the first non-Norwegian company to fundraise with Folkeinvest in Norway. Until now, GraphoGame has been self-financed, and are now seeking funding for a global scale-up. They are collaborating with Folkeinvest in Norway to raise funding for commercialisation efforts and among others to improve the user experience, expand their language offerings, as well as to continue their fight to defeat illiteracy globally.

Mervi Palander, CEO and Founder of GraphoGame. Photo: GraphoGame.

GraphoGame Teacher Platform is to be launched in August 2023. They are also aiming to integrate all language versions of GraphoGame into one app and introduce a premium subscription service for B2C users, catering to parents. In addition, they will also be developing native apps for GraphoMath and plan to launch them by late 2023.

The company is valued at EUR 15 million (NOK 178.5 million). The pricing is the result of negotiations with the campaign’s lead investors, who have already committed EUR 1.565 million (NOK 18.5 million). GraphoGame has a unique product portfolio based on deep technology and large amounts of data. All current and future intellectual property rights are owned by GraphoGame.

No child should be held back by illiteracy in today’s world 

“We started GraphoGame because we firmly believe that no child should be held back by illiteracy in today’s world. It is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed. With a strong belief in evidence-based education, we wanted to create a solution that would provide effective and engaging early literacy education for children,” says Mervi Palander, CEO and Founder of GraphoGame. She has nearly 30 years of experience in the global education technology market.

“By collaborating with renowned universities and language experts, we ensure that GraphoGame is tailored to the specific needs of different languages and cultures. This approach allows us to provide a comprehensive and impactful learning experience for children.”

GraphoGame’s Folkeinvest Campaign opens to the public on 6th September: https://folkeinvest.no/kampanje/grapho-group-oy

Update 29 Aug 2023, 07:20: Orignally GraphoGame’s Folkeinvest Campaign opens to the public tomorrow 30th August, but is now delayed to 6th September.

CategoriesEQUALITY Tech
Ka Man Mak

Ka Man is an investigative journalist, documentary photographer, and social entrepreneur, as well as the founder of The Oslo Desk. She is a British-born Hong Konger residing in Oslo, Norway. She holds a Master in Environmental Geoscience and have taken numerous diplomas including child psychology, and a course in big data analytics at OsloMet. Made numerous publications in newsletters, magazines and Norwegian newspapers. Interested in edtech, constructive journalism, women in migration, Cantonese language, alternatives to capitalism and asylum policy.