According to global research firm Research and Markets, global edtech revenues are growing at an explosive rate. Exceeding $17.7 billion USD in 2017, the market is expected to reach $40.9 billion USD by 2020. That’s more than double the revenue in only three years, an impressive statistic even in the lightning speed world of tech.
Edtech in Southeast Asia is on the rise—the Asia-Pacific region currently represents 46% of themarket and is expected to grow to 54% in the coming years. Singapore, with its education and academically focused culture, is a fertile breeding ground for new edtech startups hoping to gain worldwide success. Here, we will outline some of the key players in the field and what the future of the industry holds.
What is edtech?
Edtech has had a fast evolution in Singapore as well as globally. In its early stages, edtech was mainly online content access. However, as technology has evolved, edtech has grown to encompass learner data analysis, gamification, social learning, and personalised learning solutions.
While the original iterations of edtech were more like digitised versions of classrooms, edtech can now be adapted to suit different learning styles and help optimise education on an individual level. Technological advances in virtual reality and augmented learning will emphasise these aspects even further in the coming years, making edtech a much more interactive experience.
Overview and History of EdTech in Southeast Asia
Singapore’s commitment to edtech innovation is apparent. The largest education conference and exhibition in Asia, EduTech Asia, is held annually in Singapore. Significant capital has been invested already in edtech startups in the country, and the market is open to innovation and growth, and is split with different technologies targeting different groups, like primary and secondary school students, higher education, and lifelong learning.
Teamie, founded in 2011, is one of the oldest edtech startups from Singapore. It is a social mobile learning platform, and in 2016 it raised $1.5 million SGD in Pre-Series A funding. Its founder and CEO, Shivanu Shukla, said their goal is to “complement and, in some cases, transform their teaching and learning practices to make learning engaging and collaborative.” While their philosophy and technology are not as out-of-the-box as some of the newer edtech startups, its success has inspired investors and entrepreneurs alike.
Geniebook is an AI multi-platform application which creates personalised worksheets based on an individual student’s strengths and weaknesses and offers tailored progress reports. Founded in Singapore in 2016 by two former tutors with a combined experience of over 20 years, Geniebook has generated significant interest from investors. In the spring of 2019, they raised $1.5 million SGD in Pre-Series A funding.
Another Singapore based startup, Kalpha, has also been the recipient of substantial investment in 2019, receiving an unspecified six-figure sum from VC fund Nest Tech. Targeted to those who are already out of school, Kalpha is an app available on both Android and iOS that connects people to meet up in real life and teach and learn by sharing experiences on a one-to-one basis.
With startups emerging for all types of learners, from the very young to professionals looking to pick up a new skill or hobby, there are opportunities for all kinds of startups in Southeast Asia to find their target audience.
The future of edtech startups in Singapore
Over 90% of Singaporeans own a smartphone. The ubiquity of and familiarity with the technology in addition to the cultural emphasis on education make Singaporeans natural adaptors of new edtech. The frequent introduction of programmes seeking to help jumpstart edtech startups in Singapore proves how much possibility investors see in the sector.
In November 2019, seed capital firm Spaze Ventures launched an edtech specific programme with headquarters in Singapore called EduSpaze. As the first edtech accelerator sponsored by Enterprise Singapore, they will provide up to $500,000 SGD as well as custom-tailored mentorship by an educator to help early-stage edtech startups go to market. They have also partnered with several technical education organisations.
The Lithan Digital Skills Accelerator has recently set up an initiative in Singapore, which helps aspiring entrepreneurs gain skills to build and grow their businesses. Targeting college students as well as working professionals, they describe their flagship program, Competency Learning as a Service (CLaaS), as “advanced education technology with innovative work-integrated learning pedagogy.” Their platform makes them not only a leader in digital learning but also a place for new edtech startups in Singapore to incubate and improve.
Singapore is a hotbed of both education and startup culture, both within the Southeast Asia region and on the global stage. With promising investments and proven success of the first trailblazing companies, edtech startups in Singapore are only limited by what people can come up with—and we can all learn something from that.