With funding from an array of venture capitalists and investors, four education startups are getting support from the Education Design Studio Inc. (EDSi), a new hybrid incubator and seed fund established by the University of Pennsylvania’sGraduate School of Education.
Dr. Barbara Kurshan of GSE describes the $2.1 million EDSi as a “new innovation ecosystem we are building for entrepreneurs, researchers, investors and teachers.” A mash up of an incubator, design studio, seed fund and social impact company, EDSi is virtual for now, as it helps launch four startups: Adidapter,ApprenNet, Raise Labs and scrible. GSE is actively searching for a physical location in Philadelphia, where it expects to locate EDSi next year.
The four startups were among the winners and finalists at the 2013 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition. A new cohort of education entrepreneurs will be chosen from participants at the May 2014 competition.
Investors in EDSi include Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania; McGraw-Hill Education; Ron Packard of K12 Inc.; Drs. Steve and Jessica Melman from Dermazoo; John H. Cammack, Managing Partner of Cammack Associates; John Katzman, CEO of The Noodle Companies LLC; the Brigitte and Donald Manekin Family Fund; Gregory Milken; Richard Binswanger, President/CEO of Away To Donate; Dr. Wallace Boston, CEO of American Public Education, Inc.; and Eric Aroesty.
For McGraw-Hill Education, the investment – “the company’s biggest and most formal foray into the world of startup incubators,” according to spokesman Brian Belardi – is an opportunity to potentially partner, acquire or hire innovators in the fast-evolving education technology arena. “We get to lend capital, time and experience,” says Belardi, “and we get access to these education startup companies and an ear to the ground in education technology.”