Tuesday 20 March 2018

Exclusive: Irish tech start-up expands China presence with education website partnership

Senior Management at EOL, Beijing, China
Senior Management at EOL, Beijing, China
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

An Irish technology start-up has continued to strengthen its foothold in the Asian markets after signing an agreement with the largest integrated education website in China.

The partnership between Onwards Learning Ltd and eol.cn is the latest strategic business move for the young e-learning company.

Eol.cn achieves between 2million and 9million unique visits per day and will promote Onwards Learning nationally as part of the government-backed deal.

The Irish firm will also be added as a linked portal on to the globally recognised site.

This recent announcement follows a €3.75m deal created between the online language company and China Computer Correspondence College (CCCC) - a vocational organisation - in December of last year.

Up to 1 million Chinese college students will have access to the firm’s cloud-based solution LearnOnEnglish.com as the technology is rolled out over a three-year period.

Offering a range of language learning resources and assessment tools, LearnOnEnglish also provides international accreditation to student users.

Co-founder of Onwards Learning, Carlo Crighton, told independent.ie that the eol.cn deal is "a major coup" for the firm as it aims to expand its platform to an international student and professional base.

With strong Chinese government connections through another co-founder, Boyu Zhang, the firm plans to strengthen its foothold in Asia before taking the platform global.

"E-learning and language e-learning is a growth market in China," said Crighton.

"There is great opportunity there but the landscape is very competitive. We have been exceptionally successful with the partnerships we've built so far and the deals we have in the pipeline."

What has enabled Onwards Learning to take these dramatic strides at such an early stage in its lifespan, according to Crighton, is because the company's platform is set up as a social marketplace.

"The draw of what we have to offer is that it is social; and the social side of learning is growing. We combine content with community so collaboration, feedback and the best possible education can be facilitated," explained Crighton.

Cormac Kelly makes up the trio of founders of Onwards Learning, which currently operates across three offices in Dublin, Shenzhen and Beijing.

As the site expands, so too will the live tutoring that the platform offers, said Crighton, which would create more employment opportunities in Ireland.

"I have already been speaking to several Irish ministers about the number of jobs we could create here as we grow. Enterprise Ireland in China has already commended us for our phenomenal growth in executing our business strategy thus far."

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