Milken-Penn GSE Business Plan Competition winners creating solutions in STEM Education, social entrepreneurship

October 7, 2020
The Finalists for the Milken-Penn GSE Business Plan Competition on a virtual chat with Catalyst @ Penn GSE Executive Director Michael Golden.

The Finalists for the Milken-Penn GSE Business Plan Competition  wait to hear  Catalyst @ Penn GSE Executive Director Michael Golden announce the 2020 grand prize winner.

There is a joint crisis in STEM education and career opportunities in many parts of rural America.

Third Room wants to change that by connecting rural students and teachers with biotech firms and professionals for meaningful learning experiences. Third Room’s pitch earned the Massachusetts-based company grand prize at the Oct. 6 Finals of the  Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition.

In its 11th year, the EBPC has garnered a reputation for showcasing emerging ideas in every level of education and the entrepreneurs working to put them into practice in schools and homes around the world.

While many of the eight finalists have been developing and testing their ideas for years, their apps, platforms, and products speak to the needs of 2020, according to Catalyst @ Penn GSE Executive Director Michael Golden

“This year’s dramatic disruptions including the global pandemic, social justice movement, and political battles have created an urgent need to reimagine the field of education to serve all students, especially the most marginalized and at risk,” Golden said. “The 2020 EBPC Finalists have risen to the challenge to advance STEM education, social emotional learning, social entrepreneurship and much more.”

The Finals brought together a virtual audience from 32 countries on six continents. In addition to hearing pitches from all eight finalists, the audience of investors, researchers, and practitioners joined interactive networking sessions. 

Third Room captured the Michael & Lori Milken Family Foundation’s Grand Prize of $40,000. The company also received $25,000 in Amazon Web Services Promotional credits.

CloudLabs won the $25,000 American Public University System Prize. The Colombian company created a virtual platform that allows teachers to run lab simulations with concepts including math, agriculture, physics, and chemistry.

Fulphil, a Philadelphia-based non-profit founded by Penn graduate Tiffany Yau collected the $5,000 Osage Venture Partners Audience Choice Prize. Fulphil teaches students social entrepreneurship and helps teens launch ventures that have a positive impact on their communities, including West Philadelphia.

All finalists received $1,000 in cash and $5,000 in Amazon Web Services Promotional credits. 

Over the last decade, the EBP has awarded more than $1.5 million in cash and prizes. Past winners, including Social CipherMentorProTassl, have gone on to secure more than $140 million in funding for their ventures. 

“Penn GSE is thrilled to showcase the efforts of these Finalists, who are committed to ensuring that all students, especially traditionally underserved youth, have the access, opportunity, and support to thrive and make a difference in our world,” Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman said.