Education

Australian education tech startups to tour China seeking partners

Updated: 2015-08-17
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Minister for sport, trade, tourism and major events Stuart Ayres will lead a business visitation tour in China for ten Australian education technology companies. Photo: Jessica Hromas
   
Ten education technology startups will this week visit a range of businesses across China as part of a NSW government funded technology mission.

The companies, which range from teacher training software ELLA to reading software ChattyKidz, were selected because they were developed enough to expand into China with several already actively selling into the world's fastest growing economy.

Minister for trade, tourism and major events Stuart Ayres said China had for a long time demonstrated a significant appetite for Australian education offerings, which should be expanded beyond attracting young Chinese people to study at Australian universities.
  
"There is so much hunger for Australian educational innovation and many export opportunities in north Asia. Education is a very good way to diversify our trades beyond commodities and agriculture," Mr Ayres said.

The program is joint initiative between the Australian Trade Commission and StudyNSW. The ten companies will visit Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing to meet with possible local partners.

"It's a matchmaking process almost," Mr Ayres said. "Local partners may not necessarily be distributors, they could also be those seeking a service or digital platforms that could solve problems these Chinese companies face."

While the Australian and Chinese education systems are very different, the startups are focusing on skills and support software rather than curriculum.

ChattyKidz founder Ken Taggart said his reading tracking and collaboration startup had customers in 32 countries. A quarter of the 12-person team is based in Beijing where their global partner, Pearson Education, is based.

"We are already talking to several organisations in China, plus we are looking for more," Mr Taggart said.

The company launched in 2013 and graduated from Telstra's startup accelerator program in 2014. Mr Taggart said they had been working on a Chinese version of the software for months and are in the middle of a capital raising round to support their international expansion.

Founder of annotating and bibliography management software ComWriter, Linda Glassop, said developing their customer base in China was a priority for her company.

"China does require some additional effort with language; but they are very eager to have education products," Dr Glassop said. "With more students in higher education in China than the US, why not start to scale where they need products like this the most? They're more receptive of Aussie startups than the US."

Since launching two years ago, ComWriter has signed slightly more than 7000 users in 76 countries, but its four largest markets are all English-speaking and culturally similar: Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

"In China we are looking for affiliates that will sell the product for us into the education market, organisations that can provide support services (as we grow) in China as well as investors to support our growth strategy."
  
SOURCE:
brisbanetimes.com.au
 
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