A collaboration between MaRS and the University of Pennsylvania
Last month, Krista Jones and Aron Solomon from MaRS’ Education Technology cluster were in Philadelphia to launch an exciting, new collaboration between MaRS and EDSi (the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education’s EdTech incubator).
Announced today, this new partnership gives edtech entrepreneurs direct access to a range of expert advisors who specialize in new business creation, tech startups and education innovation through a unique training and mentorship program featuring in-person and online learning sessions.
EDSi is a $2.1-million hybrid incubator and seed fund built specifically for education ventures. It represents a new paradigm for investors, with a model that blends the best elements of an incubator, design studio, seed fund and social impact company.
Their latest cohort includes nine early-stage startups from around the world, all participating in the pilot program, which is organized into four modules spaced over six months. Each module has the participants physically meeting in Philadelphia for four days, and then working online over the following month. MaRS provides this online component, which features 90 minutes per week of synchronous mentorship-based learning with the MaRS team, along with approximately three hours of supplemental reading and exercises. The program is structured to be practical and filled with cluster-relevant insights, examples and connections.
“We are thrilled to be in this new partnership with one of the world’s leading graduate schools of education and arguably the most innovative,” said Krista Jones, MaRS Education Technology Cluster Lead. “Together we are building an innovative EDUpreneurship program with a scope and depth that has rarely been seen anywhere.”
This is week three of the online component and, with teams based around the world from Tanzania to Silicon Valley, timing has been one of the major challenges. “It made more sense to offer two sessions per week at different times on the same day to accommodate for time zones. Given how challenging and important the material is, we wanted teams to be as fresh as possible for the real-time weekly session,” said Jones.
Aron Solomon, a MaRS Senior Advisor co-leading this initiative, also sees the many practical sides of this collaboration. “Our goal is to build something highly scaleable and saleable—to follow the exact lessons we impart to our clients here at MaRS.”
Over the next four months, the full program, covering all aspects of building an edtech startup, will be rolled out. Topics include customer development, segmentation, go-to-market, efficacy/learning outcomes, lean analytics, financial modeling, valuation, pitching, sales, team building and scaling for growth.
This announcement comes at a critical time in the growth of the edtech sector. In 2013 alone, global edtech investments hit $1.25 billion across 378 venture deals. With no sign of this momentum slowing down, the collaboration between MaRS and EDSi is a perfect fit for EDUpreneurs looking to take their startup to the next level and for incubators looking to offer a program rich in cluster-specific knowledge and content.
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