EduSpaze, Singapore’s first education technology (edtech) accelerator has announced its fourth cohort of startups. Nine early-stage edtech companies from Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, US and Canada have been selected for the fourth cohort from over 180 applicants across 43 countries.
The newest batch follows the legacy of participants in the previous cohorts that have successfully raised funding from EduSpaze and other partners such as Flying Cape, ACKTEC Technologies and Binar Academy to name a few.
EduSpaze is managed by a seed capital firm and startup incubator, Spaze Ventures, and supported by Enterprise Singapore, the enterprise development agency. EduSpaze aims to nurture a vibrant edtech startup ecosystem that serves the education sector in Singapore and Southeast Asia by supporting early-stage edtech companies with up to S$500,000 funding, providing a unique accelerator programme, mentor support, and an environment for pilot project implementations in the region.
The EduSpaze team will work with the founders over the course of the three-month virtual programme to accelerate their progress in market fit, client discovery, product development, scalability, revenue generation, and strategies to attract follow-on capital investment.
Edtech maintains strong momentum after pandemic push
According to HolonIQ, edtech venture capital reached three times pre-pandemic investment levels in 2021, accelerating startups around the world with over $20B of funding. While this cumulative wave of investment in innovation and technology marks a meaningful milestone in the digital transformation of learning, there is a disconnect with the current state of educators who are overwhelmed and burnt out. According to a nationwide survey in Singapore, more than 80 per cent of teachers say their mental health has been negatively impacted by their work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alex Ng, Managing Director of EduSpaze explains, “For the past two years, educators were trying to cope with the jump from traditional in-class learning to digital learning and were overwhelmed with technology. Starting to use a new edtech tool takes time, as the educators need to understand the solution well and evaluate if it actually supports or augments the learning process. Two years on, while educators have seen the potential and possibilities of edtech, they are no longer dazzled by shiny new technology. They are looking for tools and learning models that not only can make their lives easier, but improve the educational experience in an impactful and sustainable way. If anything, there is a stronger momentum for edtech now than before.”
“Edtech has become intertwined in our daily lives, whether it is work or play, so the impact of the technology is far-reaching. The pandemic showed that individuals and organisations are, in fact, receptive to adopting edtech in different ways to augment their learning processes, “ says Felix Tan, founder and CEO of Skilio, a school-to-work skills portfolio platform. “Having a strong education pedagogy is important for an edtech startup and EduSpaze’s strong focus on combining pedagogy and technology makes them an ideal partner to work with as we continue to build our company. We hope to enhance the pedagogical effectiveness of our solution and scale our offerings to more educational stakeholders in the region.”
New trends emerge but focus on pedagogy critical for edtech’s success
Ng adds on, “The trends that dominate the technology landscape apply to edtech. We are seeing more innovative solutions that are powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud technology and this shift is reflected in our cohort as well, such as Edorer, LingoTalk and Kids Online. Regardless of these new trends, the current state of edtech around the world fundamentally needs to be ‘more ed and less tech’. It’s important that edtech meets the needs of the users – education systems, educators and learners – and to do so, the emphasis on pedagogy will help pave the way and set the solution up for success.”
EduSpaze has seen strong results and success with its portfolio companies by adopting a robust focus on pedagogical design, which is not possible with more general accelerator programmes. Through their continued partnership with Education Alliance Finland (EAF), which specializes in pedagogical design as well as scientifically-backed quality evaluations of learning solutions, each startup will receive an endorsed report that includes evidence-based and concrete suggestions to better improve the impact of their product.
As part of the EduSpaze experience, the cohort will be able to connect with schools, local partners and investors within the extensive network built by the accelerator. The cohort can also expect to conduct pilot projects with education institutes, build their own network of local partners in the region and test their products in real-life scenarios.
“We are on a mission to build a world where every child has the opportunity to be STEM literate. This program now opens doors for us to explore the South East Asia region and inspire the next generation of global leaders with meaningful STEM education. South East Asia is our priority region for growth not only because the size of the opportunity to impact education is large but also the adoption of online tools and learning in the region is expected to see continuous growth beyond the pandemic. We are looking forward to building new relationships, learning from our peers and making a difference in new communities to support youth in their learning journey,” says Anu Bidani, founder and CEO of Canada-based STEM Minds.