Last week, NewTechKids became the subject of Wittenberg University‘s Project Week in Amsterdam. For five days, business students dove into NewTechKids’ business model and selected a country where we could expand our business: curriculum, lesson plans and teacher training programs. (We discounted the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Finland, Australia and New Zealand as these countries already have thriving computer science education in place.)

Their challenge: select a country, prove that computational thinking and computer science education for primary school age children would be a viable business opportunity, and outline a market entry strategy for NewTechKids, complete with financial projections.

On Friday, NewTechKids’ co-founders, Deborah Carter and Marja-Ilona Koski, and Carol Tarr, Wittenborg’s Course Leader for its Entrepreneurial Business Administration program heard pitches from the six teams.

Wittenborg’s business students come from the Netherlands and countries in Asia, Africa, South America, eastern Europe and Russia, with some having attended private and international schools around the world. So the diverse perspective and real-life experience that they brought definitely strengthened the final pitches.

Strategies ranged from targeting private and international schools and aligning with powerful teachers unions, to enlisting the backing and financial support of Russian oligarchs who are bringing new educational approaches and schools to their country.

The winning country? Singapore with a thriving, after-school enrichment study culture. According to this team, 97% of all primary and secondary school students are enrolled in enrichment classes so they suggested that this is how we should consider entering the country.

Science and technology are an important focus of the Singaporean economy and the country is actively building its innovation ecosystem, with companies and universities taking the lead. The team believes that NewTechKids’ pedagological and teaching approaches, which focus on computational thinking and 21st century skills development, not technical skills, would be desirable in this country.

A big thank you to Wittenborg University, Dean Timo Timmerman  and its wonderful business students for their hard work. We’ll be studying their research, insights and strategies in more detail in the weeks to come.

Photo of Team Singapore with Marja-Ilona and Deborah, NewTechKids’ co-founders, second and third from right.

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