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September 18, 2013 – Penn’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) has announced that the Education Design Studio, Inc. (EDSi), a $2.1 million hybrid incubator and seed fund built specifically for education ventures, will launch September 23 in Philadelphia. The fund, which will nurture five early stage start-ups, is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between Penn GSE and a host of seasoned venture capitalists and investors. EDSi 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.
Investors include Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania; McGraw-Hill; 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.
“Education Design Studio, Inc. offers education start-ups the chance to collaborate with established and successful investors, researchers, practitioners and entrepreneurs – all of whom are deeply committed to innovation in education,” said Andy Porter, Dean of Penn GSE. “It’s a natural fit for Penn GSE 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.”
“Education Design Studio, Inc. will be an exciting venture, building on our City’s goal to provide a high-quality education for every student, the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education’s research work, and the entrepreneurial spirit of our many civic innovators,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “I am looking forward to the development of EDSi’s education-based start-ups and the potential to test out many of their ideas and tools in Philadelphia.”
EDSi will work with stakeholders in the investment and publishing communities and with the best providers of curriculum and programs to incubate edtech and education entrepreneurs. EDSi’s singular focus on education is designed to increase the success rate for start-up and early stage ventures through a number of distinct advantages, including connecting research to practice; providing a unique funding model; providing opportunities to test start-up ideas in actual classrooms in Philadelphia, schools and corporate learning environments; and connections to the world-class Penn GSE faculty. Penn GSE’s unique collaboration with EDSi continues the school’s efforts to help education research impact practice in innovative ways. By accessing the world-renowned faculty of the University of Pennsylvania as well as providing opportunities for graduate students to connect with EDSi, Penn GSE hopes to create a truly unique and valuable experience, with the opportunity to invite other researchers and students to connect with future cohorts.
EDSi is strongly linked to the successful Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) and has extended invitations to winners and finalists of the 2013 EBPC to participate in the six-month Design Studio program. Participating ventures will receive $10,000 upon acceptance into the program, with opportunities for additional gap funding upon their “graduation” from the six-month program. This support will be in addition to any prize money awarded through the EBPC. The first EDSi cohort will begin the Design Studio program September 23, 2013.
The EBPC competition was launched in 2010 as a joint effort between Penn GSE and the Milken Family Foundation, and was the first-ever funded education business plan competition. The Competition has also earned a name for itself by attracting innovative ideas from around the world and spotting winning education innovations. Three 2012 finalists recently landed spots on the 2013 Forbes Magazine “30 Under 30” list of Gen-Y thought leaders who are reinventing education.