A Scottish education technology startup has appointed an overseas head to lead its US expansion.

Edinburgh-headquarted Robotical – the company behind pocket-sized codeable computer Marty the Robot – has named Hal Speed its first head of North America.

It is hoped computer science expert Speed will help increase Robotical’s US presence by refining its educational offering, augmenting channel partnerships and building awareness among key audiences.

Marty the Robot is a versatile, walking, dancing, eyebrow-wiggling low cost STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) robot designed for children and educators to learn coding and robotics skills. 

Robotical has sold over 7,000 Marty units since 2017, growing distribution to 65 countries.

Founder Dr Sandy Enoch said: “North America is an untapped market for us and the opportunities are huge albeit complex.  The landscape varies dramatically to the UK, not only is it vast in terms of geography, the curriculum is also set out at a state level so reaching the decision makers takes connections and knowhow.

“It’s important for us to have someone who is both well recognised and well respected within the STEM education sphere to drive the awareness we need first of all and then get us in front of the right people. We had known of Hal for his great work and commitment to levelling the playing field for the introduction and uptake of computer science in schools in the US. With his background, knowledge and expertise, he’s the ideal person to help us optimise our offering and get a strong foothold within the North American market. 

Robotical’s new head of North America Hal Speed. Supplied/Robotical

Boasting a career in tech that spans over 20 years, Speed has led sales and marketing strategies for both startups and multinationals, including Texas Instruments, AMD and Dell. 

Along with other writers, he authored the kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12) computer science framework, used by curriculum standard writers such as national education departments and agencies.

Speed said: “It’s imperative that children at a young age have the opportunity to learn computational thinking and coding, and Marty provides a fun and engaging way to introduce these concepts.  Robotical is focused on making it easy for educators to introduce STEM with instructional materials aligned with national curriculum standards, and a sequence of learning starting with pre-readers and progressing to advanced robotics concepts.  I’m delighted to join Robotical and ignite a passion for learning with Marty across North America.”

The global education technology market size was valued at $89.49 billion (£64.7bn) in 2020 and is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.9 per cent from 2021 to 2028. 

Marty the Robot can be coded by users from ages 8-18 in computer languages including Scratch and Python, is compatible with single board computers like Raspberry Pi and can be customised with 3D printed parts.  

Marty comes as a kit or pre-built, so users can either build from the ground up or jump straight into coding the robot to walk, turn, dance, kick a football and more.