Pling Ltd. UoE spin out developing novel early learning technologies

Pling Ltd – UoE spin out developing novel early learning technologies

We take a broad view of industry engagement that includes both public service delivery and policy advocacy along with the work of third sector organisations and private companies in a range of sectors.  The benefits of researcher-industry collaboration can include service and policy improvement, developing skills and the development of new products. 

We are also keen to explore commercialisation opportunities from our own research. As an example, Dr Andrew Manches has drawn upon his and colleagues’ research to spin out an early learning technology company, PlayTalkLearn (Pling Ltd). PlayTalkLearn is committed to developing novel and engaging digital toys that support learning. 

PlayTalkLearn has explored several designs to take to market. In 2015, the company received a SMART feasibility grant to develop Numbuko is set of colour-changing intelligent blocks to enable young children to explore number patterns. This design was informed by Andrew’s ESRC research project exploring the potential of tangible technology in early learning.

Andrew Manches with Numbuko














More recently, PlayTalkLearn has developed a design that enables soft toys to come alive on screen as learning song animations – the Magic Cloud. To support this design, the company has recently received various funding including an Innovation Voucher, Edinburgh Enterprise Initiative and ESRC Business Booster grants. The latter enables the company to explore links with local educational organisations that sell soft toys (e.g. Edinburgh Zoo) to see how the Magic Cloud can add value to their organisation. Here is a short video explaining the Magic Cloud The Magic Cloud was a recently finalist in the 2018 University of Edinburgh’s Inspire Launch Grow Award.


Magic Cloud from Bill Walsh on Vimeo.

PlayTalkLearn draw upon a range of research from the Digital Education Research Centre – from designing to support children and parents, to greater understanding of the ethical considerations of personal data. The company also feedbacks valuable industry expertise, from links to a broad range of companies and industry engagement organisations, to knowledge in areas such as marketing, intellectual property, and product design. Importantly, the company provides first-hand experience of the challenges of bridging research to industry to increase impact. Andrew Manches’ vision is to grow a company that develops in harmony with underpinning research.