A Chat with Michael Bodekaer Jensen, CEO and Co-Founder at Science e-Learning Company: Labster

Labster is the world’s leading platform for virtual labs and science simulations. Our aim is to innovate learning at scale and ensure that every student has access to high-quality science education.

The way it works is, we engage students in game-based elements that inspire them to explore science and new concepts. They apply their knowledge to solve real-world problems, within the context of a story, inside the 3D environment of an immersive simulation. Imagine a range of experiences, from understanding bacterial growth and isolation to exploring the biodiversity of an exoplanet. Students can interact with advanced equipment, learn techniques and perform experiments mimicking the real thing. This helps them to master curriculum-aligned theory, cement their knowledge and learn from an environment that enables productive failure.

Student equity is at the heart of what we do. We support all learners by offering popular simulations in multiple languages, featuring diverse characters on screen, and accommodating hearing and visual impairments. What’s more, we make teachers’ jobs easier. Alongside exploring concepts in an immersive and thorough way, the technology integrates with learning management system platforms which saves time and resources. From automatic grading quizzes to performance data and analytics, Labster works with teachers to reach better student outcomes.

For eight years, Labster has offered scientists, teachers and students at more than 2,000 universities including Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and other major international institutions, the opportunity to virtually explore and broaden their educational offering. We’re also on an exciting growth journey at the moment and expanding further into Europe and other regions. In fact, recently we won the Digital Economy Award for the ‘Next Global Hot Thing’ showcasing our dedication to EdTech innovation and global digital transformation.
 
 
Labster Secures $21MM In Series B To Massively Expand Virtual Lab Catalog  And Scale U.S. Operations
 

What is the drive behind the virtual lab simulations and what role do you play in this?

 
The inspiration for Labster came while my co-founder, Mads Bonde, was teaching science in Denmark. He found that despite the interesting nature of the science lessons, many students found it boring. This is because of the way students were learning, often from textbooks rather than being hands-on with the content, which is impacted by time, cost and safety.

So, we incorporated our backgrounds – Mads’ thorough understanding of STEM education and my video game industry experience – to reimagine the way science lessons are taught and design a journey for students to learn and solve real-world challenges.

Lab work is crucial for students to develop their skills and understand science, yet they are out of reach for many students due to the cost and facilities available, a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

That said, our technology offers educators more than just a pandemic innovation. We don’t want to replace in-person Labs completely, we support them. Labster in the virtual learning space is significant because it supports student engagement, conceptual understanding and improves accessibility, representing a shift towards more democracy within science education that should be championed. It’s my role to ensure we achieve our mission.
 

 

What advice would you give to other aspiring founders/ business leaders?

 
Early in my career, I was of the mindset that everyone should be an entrepreneur that wanted to. Since then, I now understand that is not the case for many people, and for many good reasons. Number one, it is difficult. You must be passionate about the journey. Often, when I failed, it was because I wasn’t passionate enough. You must find the passion for a solution you truly believe in.

A solution that will help the world, help your friends, or something powerful that will create an impact. Don’t start a company just for the challenge. If that’s the case, it will be a tough, boring, and actually a painful journey. It’s a series of nonstop battles and challenges to solve. If you’re passionate, you see the challenges and failures as learning opportunities.

I look forward to each challenge because I know how much we are going to learn from it. I also know we are going to move through it and forward. It is this mindset, and energy, of having the ability to overcome challenge after challenge, failure after failure, learning quickly and adapting, that’s going to move you forward, through it. So You definitely need passion and commitment to be able to succeed.

With that, my advice to aspiring founders and business leaders is to dig very deep and discover the passion for your solution. Create a mindset of turning failure into a luxurious opportunity to learn as you succeed.
 

What is Labster working on and what can we hope to see in the future?

 
We’re thrilled to have recently expanded our nursing education offering, with the acquisition of UbiSim. Our virtual learning technology means that we are well placed to play a key role in transforming nursing teaching, helping to overcome the global nursing shortage and empower the next generation of scientists and healthcare workers.

Elsewhere, we’re constantly scoping out how to improve what virtual labs can offer, from collaborative spaces to wider use of content and in more languages – it’s a very exciting time.

In tandem, we are looking to expand into new regions in Europe as well as Latin America and Africa. This goes hand-in-hand with our two big goals. First, to serve 100 million students, and second, to become a platform that enables anyone in the world to customise and build their own simulations.

Ultimately as hybrid learning becomes increasingly popular and more teachers recognise the value in technology adoption such as virtual lab simulations, Labster is on track to make a massive global impact in the education sector.