Start Singapore: EDB's investment arm invests in Coursera

StartNow co-founders Keith Tan (left) and Ivan Chang with Goodtizens CEO Darren Yong. StartNow provides software for non-profit and governmental organisations.
StartNow co-founders Keith Tan (left) and Ivan Chang (right) with Goodtizens CEO Darren Yong. StartNow provides software for non-profit and governmental organisations.PHOTO: STARTNOW

EDB's investment arm invests in Coursera

The corporate investment arm of the Economic Development Board (EDB) has invested in an American firm that offers open-access courses from the world's top universities.

The US$61.1 million (S$85.3 million) from EDBI and other investors will help California-based Coursera expand across Asia, one of its fastest-growing markets.

The EDBI said yesterday that Coursera will use the funds to "address the demand for high quality, accessible education around the world and particularly in Asia, where over a quarter of its users are located".

It will also expand its efforts to source new, career-relevant content and improve the learning experience to meet the needs of learners in Asia.

Coursera partners leading universities to offer more than 1,000 online courses to more than 10 million users worldwide.

The latest round of financing was led by venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, one of Coursera's original investors.

A new investor was Times Internet, which holds the Times of India and related media properties in India.

Singaporeans were early adopters of Coursera's online courses. The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University have offered more than a dozen courses to learners worldwide.

Coursera is also engaged in a pilot training programme with the Infocomm Development Authority. The agency co-funded the training fees of Singaporeans who completed the Data Science Specialisation, a rigorous course series on Coursera offered by Johns Hopkins University.


Social enterprise StartNow acquired

A local social enterprise start-up called StartNow has been acquired by Goodtizens Technologies for $530,000.

The sum maybe small but it is the first acquisition in the local social enterpreneurship space.

Founded in 2011, StartNow provides software for non-profit and government agencies as well as management services for corporate social responsibility programmes. Customers include the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Citibank, ING Bank and MediaCorp.

Goodtizens will integrate StartNow's software into an online portal for social enterprises to sell their goods and services. Non-governmental organisations can also manage and recruit volunteers and let users book social-related travel through the portal, which will be ready for a pilot launch next year.

Grace Chng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'StartSingapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe