The startup has earmarked an investment of $10 Mn to set up the university, which is part of its larger strategy to establish three medical schools in the region
The move will enable upGrad to strengthen its footprint in the South Pacific region and boost cross-border synergies
The expansion comes as upGrad posted an INR 626.6 Cr loss in FY22 and has even conducted two rounds of layoffs at its subsidiaries
Edtech unicorn upGrad has announced its foray into the Pacific region with the establishment of its first offline medical institute in the Republic of Vanuatu.
Called the upGrad Institute of Medical Sciences (UIMS), the college will train students in modern-day clinical competencies and impart medical skills. As per the company, UIMS will begin inviting applications soon.
Further, the startup has earmarked an investment of $10 Mn to set up the university, which is part of its larger strategy to establish three medical schools in the region. In a statement, upGrad said that it is eyeing a ‘few more’ such institutes in select geographies in the near future.
Founded in 2015 by Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli and Ravijot Chugh, upGrad is an edtech platform that offers upskilling courses to working professionals.
The move will enable upGrad to strengthen its footprint in the South Pacific region and boost synergies between the two countries.
“This initiative is a part of our multi-campus strategy where we aim to set up at least three medical schools in the Pacific region, along with a few more in select geographies… Our expansion will accelerate cross-border synergies between the two countries and put Vanuatu on the world map for all good reasons,” said upGrad’s head of corporate development and M&As Gaurav Kumar.
Commenting on the development, upGrad’s cofounder and chairperson Ronnie Screwvala said, “…We have a strong presence in Australia, and this move in Vanuatu, which shares proximity with Australia and New Zealand, will be a critical piece in strengthening our South Pacific footprints.”
The edtech startup also claims that the setting up of the institute will encourage talent mobility in the region.
The startup is backed by marquee names such as Temasek, International Finance Corporation, and IIFL. It raised a funding of $185 Mn in August 2021 to enter the coveted unicorn club at a valuation of $1.2 Bn. upGrad has raised $668 Mn in funding across multiple rounds since its inception.
So far, the edtech platform claims to have enrolled more than 1 Cr learners across 70 countries. It also claims to partner directly with 300 university partners and 20,000 recruitment partners. Alongside, its B2B vertical caters to more than 3,000 corporate clients across the globe.
Expansion Despite Mounting Problems
The expansion to the Pacific region comes at a time when the startup has seen a spate of bad news in the recent past. The company’s video learning platform upGrad Campus recently (March 2023) fired 30% of its total workforce, impacting 120 employees.
In January, upGrad-owned Harappa Education laid off 40% of its workforce or nearly 73 employees. While upGrad has largely refrained from citing any reasons for the retrenchments, the India edtech ecosystem has been reeling under the stress of the funding winter, macroeconomic pressures and offline institutes returning back to prominence after the pandemic lull.
Making matters worse for upGrad seems to be its mounting losses, which soared to INR 626.6 Cr in the financial year 2021-22 (FY22) from INR 211.1 Cr in FY21. The edtech startup also saw the departure of CEO Arjun Mohan in January for unspecified reasons.
Despite the challenges, the edtech space continues to penetrate deeper into the offline space to diversify its offerings and expand its footprint. While expansions have slowed in pace amid the funding winter, the larger Indian edtech industry still appears to be an attractive opportunity, which is projected to reach an estimated $29 Bn by 2030.