Sana Labs, a startup that’s using machine learning to personalize training courses for professionals, has raised $18 million in a series A round of funding led by EQT Ventures.

As with just about all facets of life during the pandemic, online training and education has surged over the past year, with schools, colleges, and universities forced to embrace distanced learning. The same is just as true in the corporate sphere, with companies having to transition to remote work while figuring out how to coach and upskill their workforce from afar.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 40% of the core skills needed to perform existing jobs are expected to change by 2022 as the “fourth industrial revolution” transforms industries. Sana Labs is setting out to help with an “adaptive learning platform” that automatically identifies skill gaps and tailors programs accordingly.

Customers use the Sana Labs authoring tool to upload the content and design the courses Sana Labs applies its ML to.

“Automated learning assistant technology understands where misalignments exist between learning and the individual’s skills gap,” Sana Labs CEO Joel Hellermark told VentureBeat. “With adaptive assessment, learning, and review, the learning assistant personalizes the path to the individual needs of the learner — surfacing just what they need, right when they need it.”

Above: Sana Labs

Founded out of Stockholm, Sweden in 2016, Sana Labs claims customers across finance, pharmaceutical, and health care, including Novartis, PepsiCo, and Mount Sinai. During the pandemic, Sana Labs said it was adopted by 2,000 hospitals that used the platform to upskill more than 80,000 health care workers to handle the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. It did so by first determining the existing knowledge of each nurse and then automatically generating a program to bridge the gaps.

One of the challenges of this approach is compensating for the lack of human coaching and prompts you might get in a classroom setting. For example, a classroom teacher could see how someone is progressing and encourage them to finish an assignment. To replicate this kind of attention, Sana Labs uses “nudging,” as it calls its “scientifically based behavioral and pedagogical interventions.”

“Smart nudging is another component that leverages behavior data to provide tiny interventions to increase the rate of course completion,” Hellermark added. “Using AI allows actionable insights to be personalized and delivered in real time to identify patterns in learners’ data and provide insights.”

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