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U Penn School of Ed Launches Education Tech Incubator

This fall the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education has launched a start-up incubator specifically to help education business ideas get off the ground. The Education Design Studio Inc. (EDSi), as it's called, has received $2.1 million in funding as well as support from a number of investors, including McGraw-Hill Education. Most of the initial round of start-up participants were finalists in an education business-plan competition that ran earlier this year.

The idea of the Studio is to give education start-ups a way to collaborate with others in the education segment, including investors, researchers, practitioners, and entrepreneurs. "It's a natural fit for Penn [Graduate School of Ed] because its emphasis on incorporating cutting-edge education research into innovative education start-ups plays to our strengths, including building upon our success with the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition," said Andy Porter, dean of the school.

Five start-ups will be participating during the initial year:

  • Apidapter, which is developing a Web-based integration service to help schools integrate their applications;
  • ApprenNet, an online service that lets instructors provide scenario-based learning and feedback mechanisms to students;
  • Autism Expressed, a service to help students with autism learn life-skills through interactive curriculum;
  • Raise Labs, a forum to help students raise money for college from sponsors who support them in achieving education goals, doing community service, and participating in outside-school activities; and
  • scrible, a research tool for saving, annotating, organizing, and sharing Web pages.

Besides receiving financial capital for their first year of operation, the new companies will also receive help in financial, legal, marketing, and technology areas from the graduate school's faculty and the program's sponsors. They'll also get the chance to try out their technologies, where appropriate, with prospective customers in schools or companies. Start-up principals have committed to attending training sessions and doing online collaboration during the program for six months.

"This partnership presents a unique opportunity to combine the experience of our extensive in-house network of digital content developers with one of the leading and most entrepreneurial education schools in the country," said Stephen Laster, chief digital officer of McGraw-Hill Education.

More information about the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education is available at

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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