Immersive simulations, now used in hiring process at top employers, allow Imbellus to assess how people think instead of just what they know
Imbellus, developer of simulation-based assessment technology, today announced the closing of a $14.5 million Series A financing round led by Owl Ventures, bringing the company’s total funding to $23M. Prior investors, including Upfront Ventures and Thrive Capital, participated alongside Rethink Education, which also joined the round.
“The achievements of the Imbellus team represent a unique opportunity to improve assessment across the education to employment ecosystem,” says Ashley Bittner of Owl Ventures. “This work has implications for the future of the K-12 system. It’s about enabling an educational paradigm focused on skills like problem solving, systems thinking, and creativity.”
Rather than map assessments to the academic demands of college, Imbellus works with organizations renowned for skills like creativity or problem solving to investigate the application of these skills in the real world. Imbellus then translates observed skills and attributes into the language of learning science and psychometrics to design complex challenges that bring problem solving contexts to life via abstract, simulation-based assessments.
“We are working to decouple content mastery from the assessment of underlying cognitive skills and abilities in order to learn not just what people know, but how they think,” says Rebecca Kantar, Founder and CEO of Imbellus. “Our long term goal is to re-orient the education system to develop minds that ask the right questions, imagine the next problem to solve, and navigate complex systems. It’s about making good on the promise of public education for all students, not just for the wealthiest 10%.”
Since launching in 2016, Imbellus’ team of learning scientists, game developers, AI/ML engineers, and psychometricians has partnered with researchers at the forefront of assessment and evaluation, including the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA.
“In the unprecedented disruption that we find ourselves in, understanding and accurately measuring the myriad of ways in which individuals solve problems will become increasingly crucial in better matching people with jobs. At McKinsey, it has always been important to us to understand how people think, and not just what they know,” says Keith McNulty, Director of Digital & People Analytics at McKinsey & Company, which has partnered with Imbellus since 2017 to pilot their digital, scenario-based assessments as part of the recruiting and hiring process. “Imbellus’ technology is helping us to expand the principles of our case study interviews to a much wider range of talent, providing engaging experiences that expose them to the kinds of problem solving we do, while giving us accurate and detailed information on how they think about problems.”
Rather than assess content knowledge and a limited set of learned skills, Imbellus assessments leverage multi-step, rich scenarios in a natural world simulation environment. Unlike IQ tests or neuroscience games, which focus on working memory, processing speed, or fluidity of thinking, Imbellus assessments are designed to quantify the sort of skills that differentiate human intelligence from machine intelligence, such as critical thinking, decision-making, and metacognition.
The technology platform that undergirds Imbellus assessments guards against cheating and hacking through the use of a virtual world that utilizes AI to generate ever-changing scenarios for test takers to complete tasks, of reliably comparable complexity.
Imbellus builds simulation-based cognitive assessments to evaluate how people think instead of what they know. Today, we’re partnering with companies known for skills like problem solving, inquiry, analysis, and imagination that are critical to a rapidly changing world of work. Eventually, we’ll replace the standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, and AP exams. By reinventing the way we measure human potential, Imbellus will unlock opportunities to transform education for the next generation. For more information, visit Imbellus.com.