Trinity spinout ETU lands major US investment

ETU helps to upskill more than 1m workers across the globe.

US investors have made a substantial investment in Trinity College Dublin e-learning spinout Empower the User (ETU).

Terms of the deal were not disclosed by it has been reported to be in the region of €50m.

“ETU is proud of its Irish roots. The company is built on leading-edge research from Trinity College Dublin and our growth has been supported by Enterprise Ireland”

The strategic investment was led by Mission Springs Ventures and Pacific Lake Partners, along with participation from other private investors.

ETU is originally a spinout of Trinity College Dublin with links to the SFI ADAPT Centre. It was founded by Dr Declan Dagger, Prof Vincent Wade, Prof Michael Gill and Dr Brian Fitzmaurice and the platform was developed with two Trinity alumni, Dr Conor Gaffney and Gordon Power. The company focuses on immersive learning technologies to help upskill workers across the globe. In recent times it has expanded its Irish and US operations. This latest announcement sees leading US private investors back the company for growth.

Mission Springs Ventures, an investment vehicle led by executive Katie Laidlaw, assembled the investor group and financing. The investment will fuel continued growth with additional capital and management resources focused on customer value creation.

Made in Ireland

As part of the transaction, Laidlaw will assume leadership of the business in the role of CEO. ETU’s co-founder, Dr Declan Dagger, will continue in his role as Chief Operating Officer of the company.

“ETU is proud of its Irish roots. The company is built on leading-edge research from Trinity College Dublin and our growth has been supported by Enterprise Ireland. That growth trajectory will continue with the new investment. Katie Laidlaw’s business acumen and keen leadership style is the perfect combination to lead ETU forward,” Dagger explained.

In the past year ETU doubled its annual revenue and is on track to double its revenue again in 2022.

“It’s with tremendous optimism that I join ETU and lead it into the next phase of growth. There is so much opportunity in front of this team and product. I am excited to serve the growing needs of our customers and the broader market,” says CEO, Katie Laidlaw.

The business’s workforce increased fourfold in the last two years and the SaaS platform recently cross the threshold of 1m learners worldwide.

“Founded on ground-breaking fundamental research in personalised and immersive learning technologies, the ETU team has constantly pioneered new innovations to be the market leader in this area,” Professor Vincent Wade, Director of the SFI ADAPT Centre and Chair of Artificial Intelligence at Trinity College Dublin said.

“ETU has proven their immersive approach to be a more engaging and effective way of learning critical skills and we are very proud of their continued success.”

Jenny Melia, Technology and Services Divisional Manager, Enterprise Ireland, added: “Irish innovators are increasingly playing critical roles in the transformation of sectors globally, and Enterprise Ireland is committed to nurturing this indigenous talent. There is a long history of collaboration and partnerships in Ireland, and Enterprise Ireland is proud to foster this unique and rich ecosystem. Enterprise Ireland is proud to have supported ETU on its growth journey. ETU is a wonderful example of an Irish company making a global impact, as they are now a successful market leader in immersive learning.”

Main image: Michael Veale, Katie Laidlaw and with Declan Dagger of ETU

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.