5 Jan, 2023 - 5 min read

The history of academyEX

Our history

academyEX is an evolution of a commitment to innovative, forward-thinking education that started in 2013 with the launch of The Mind Lab.

The beginnings - The Mind Lab

The story of academyEX began ten years ago in 2013, when Frances Valintine first founded The Mind Lab. Created to address the imbalance between what children were learning at school and the skills that the future would require of them. While Frances had spent the previous 15 years focused on higher education she saw how little had changed in the education system as she watched her own children attend school. This passion for making sure education was designed to be 'fit for purpose' became a life commitment for Frances, as she put together team of passionate educators who were also on a mission to create education opportunities that were highly relevant and contextualised in today's world.

Shortly after launching The Mind Lab for school-aged children, it quickly became evident that to support young learners, there was an unmet need to raise the digital skills and capabilities of teachers so that they too could build confidence and agency to bring learning to life in their classrooms and embrace digital change within their school communities. From there, The Mind Lab expanded the programmes to build capabilities in communities, the workplace and beyond to lead change and build resilience.

By 2014 hundreds of teachers began studying the postgraduate studies with The Mind Lab, who partnered with Unitec, New Zealand's largest public polytechnic institute. Within a year over 1000 teachers were studying with The Mind Lab, across multiple locations. This was the beginning of a dream to broaden the industries that could be supported as emerging technologies and changing work-based practices began to impact professionals across all sectors.

Next steps - Tech Futures Lab

Turning attention to the commercial world, Tech Futures Lab was created in 2016 to support professionals and businesses in developing the critical skills needed to excel in the ‘future of work.’ The focus at Tech Futures Lab complimented the programmes at The Mind Lab, however, this lab focused on highly disruptive technologies including artificial intelligence, immersive technologies such as AR/VR, automation, 3D printing, machine learning and robotics.

Within a year Tech Futures Lab supported a large cohort of professionals who were facing digital transformation in their roles. The rise of new technologies matched with the rise of new opportunities and threats caused from changing workplace needs, the impact of climate change and the lack of skilled talent.

Over the following years Tech Futures Lab embarked on a programme of development to create multiple new qualifications tailored to a busy professional market. This included delving deeply into the methodologies and preferred delivery styles and approaches for a group of learners who were geographically dispersed and time poor.

From inception, Tech Futures Lab saw transformative ideas born from students- some of these ideas built start ups, others shifted the direction of organisations and some are reaching leaders on the global stage.

Partnerships for change

From the beginning, investing in tech and highly technical staff was a defining feature of what is now known as academyEX. The investment in a large team of developers, engineers, project managers, and data analysts meant academyEX was more than a highly awarded higher education provider, but also a leading Edtech contributor, developing education platforms for our own students, but also for other institutions and entities.

Making a commitment to the environment- Earth Futures Lab

In late 2022, Earth Futures Lab joined the portfolio of future-focused faculties to place focus on building knowledge, skills and capabilities in sustainability practices and technologies that can support sustainable outcomes for people and the environment.

Subjects and prgrammes within the Earth Futures Lab faculty range from the role of technology in addressing sustainability, new circular economy models, to the role of impact investing. We talk about sustainability but the goal is to go beyond it towards thriving regenerative environments. Earth Futures Lab is our commitment to building essential skills that lead to flourishing futures.

Forward to the future - academyEX

In January 2023 we launched a new over-arching entity to bring together the three postgraduate faculties of The Mind Lab, Tech Futures Lab and Earth Futures Lab - under the umbrella of academyEX -the academy excellence.

As we look forward to the next phase in our exciting future, we look forward to welcoming you to our community. We were and are committed to supporting all people undertaking further studies through the ability to step into the future with confidence and in the presence of like-minded professionals who are embracing change.