Textbook Publisher Unveils $100M Innovation Fund

By Ian Quillen — September 13, 2010 1 min read
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt unveiled a $100 million “HMH Innovation Fund” on Monday to be directed toward projects that spur student achievement, individualized instruction, and technology integration.

The Boston-based education publisher, which is involved in textbooks, assessments, and fiction for young readers and adults, among other products, expects to formally announce the process for submitting concepts for funding consideration in the coming weeks. According to a news release, internal submissions will be a focus of the program as the company continues trying to fuse existing content with new media, an effort many educational publishers are undertaking right now. There was no indication what portion of the fund could be directed internally.

HMH also announced an investment of up to $300 million during the next three years in the development of “innovation centers” in the United States and in Dublin, Ireland, with the intention of using the centers as venues for collaboration with manufacturers, foundations, and academia on new programs and products. One example of a project already in progress is a pilot program in California involving a full-curriculum Algebra application on the Apple iPad that provides remediation for students based on test scores, and gives teachers student-specific feedback.

Education publishers have been moving in the direction of technology integration for a while now. For example, HMH and competitors McGraw-Hill and Pearson signed deals in February to create applications for the iPad and other electronic readers. But as Gilbert T. Sewall noted in his April commentary, while education publishers need to adapt to digitalization, they may also underestimate the cost of that adaptation, and be ill-equipped to keep pace if digital education publishing explodes too quickly.

Is this an attempt by HMH to guard against such an explosion by gaining allies? Well, CEO Barry O’Callaghan will be stopping by EdWeek global headquarters to talk more about the textbook market’s increasing shift toward technology on Thursday. And we’ll try to answer that and more for you.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.