Vietnam’s Topica launches EdTechLab, to foster disruptive tech in education

Vietnam-based edtech group Topica launched Topica EdTechLab programme in Hanoi, to foster young startups that are looking to apply new technologies in the sector of education.

“Topica EdTechLab  expects to showcase disruptive technologies, which will potentially be applied not only in Vietnam but also in the Southeast Asian region, to improve the education and life of people,” Topica said in a statement.

The lab has invited over 30 well-known CTOs of Vietnam to be mentors of the programme, which will select up to 15 teams to support every year. The developers will own 75 per cent copyright of their projects, while Topica EdTechLab will own 10 per cent. The remaining  15 per cent will be held by the mentors.

Panelists at the launch workshop were of the opinion that Vietnam is poised to capitalise on the trend, and develop apps based on hardwares, such as the virtual reality display Oculus Rift, Microsoft’s Hololens, Telepresence Robot, wi-fi quadricopter Drone and 3D Printer.

The lab also pointed out several promising projects, such as studying foreign languages on smart watch, 3D learning on Oculus and Hololens, remote lectures through Telepresence Robot, and identifying students through typing speed and mouse usage behaviour, to avoid cheating in online learning.

Recently, Vietnam has seen a spate of e-learning platforms being incubated. It is believed that the next-generation hardware will be the game-changer for the local edtech startup space.

Investment up in edtech

Venture capital firms involved in edtech by the second quarter of 2015, grew almost 100 per cent year-on-year, said Mike Michalec, co-founder of Edtech Asia.

In 2014, $2.4 billion was invested in edtech globally, with seed and series A funding predominant. During the first half of 2015, early stage financing dropped 19 per cent, as private equity investment sized up.

A part of the money was meant for impact investment, while financial-first investors eyed edtech more than than multi-sector portfolios.

“There has been an increase in the value of the (edtech) companies, as the popularity of edtech is increasing in the startup space,” Michalec said.

Edtech is booming in Asia; the key drivers include a robust e-commerce market, infrastructure and mobility, and the emerging middle class, he said , adding: “Asia is very young, with a high percentage of well educated people. […] A lot more people are staying in Asia instead of going abroad, so money is being spent on tutoring.”

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