4 March, 2008 – £250k funding for innovative exam-marking software development
An innovative piece of software that takes pressure off teachers by marking exam papers more quickly and efficiently than humans has secured a quarter-of-a-million pound funding.
University of Manchester spin-out company, Assessment21, has become the first to create a tool that can not only mark multi-choice answers but also open-ended responses. Until now many have tried and failed to create software that can do this.
The product – ABC (Assess By Computer) – is seen as a major breakthrough for the education sector. UMIP (The University of Manchester’s IP commercialisation company) helped develop a management team and worked with the company to raise external funding.
South Yorkshire Investment Fund and three business angels have invested £250,000 to take the software to market – specifically aiming at the higher education and professional associations markets.
The main advantages are that, compared to manually marking papers, the ABC software is quicker, more efficient and more consistent but still leaves the final judgments to humans. It allows students to remain anonymous to the marker, takes away the difficulties of reading illegible handwriting and the physical problems of handling bulky paper.
Assessment21 director Gerard Lennox said: "The product is a classic example of how to take cutting-edge research, apply commercial experience and a relatively small investment to create a viable company that satisfies a clearly identified market need."
The technology handles all aspects of the assessment process, including setting exam questions, administration and marking. It has been used for four years at The University of Manchester on a wide variety of assessments including final year exams and course work.
Heather White, Senior Business Manager at UMIP, said: "It’s very pleasing to see a truly innovative product which has already proved its worth in the University being taken to external markets by Assessment21, as the benefits of the software are very significant in terms of time savings and security."
Source: UMIP press release