Education Venture Finalists and $120,000 in Prize Funding Announced for 2017 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
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Contact:  Kat Stein, Communications | 215-898-9642 

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PHILADELPHIA — The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) and the Milken Family Foundation announced the finalists for the eighth annual Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC) today. Emerging ventures include neurocognitive eyewear for improving reading and attention, language-learning tools for minimally verbal students, and technology to create access to education for global markets. As the largest competition of its kind, the EBPC features multiple cash prizes totaling $120,000.

Considered the most prestigious and well-funded education business plan competition, the EBPC has earned a name for itself by attracting innovative ideas from around the world and spotting winning education innovations early on in their growth.

The 2017 EBPC Venture Path Finalists, selected through judging crowd-sourced with teachers, investors, entrepreneurs, and researchers, include:

  • Alchemie Solutions (Michigan): Develops mobile games that make learning organic chemistry tactile, intuitive, and fun.
  • Awear Technologies (Minnesota): Designs neurocognitive eyewear to help students correct attention deficits and improve reading comprehension and learning.
  • Caribu (Florida): Helps parents, extended family, and mentors read books with children virtually.
  • CommonLit (Washington D.C.): Helps students in grades 5–12 make measurable gains in reading and writing through high-quality digital literacy curriculum.
  • DOT LEARN (Massachusetts): Makes hours of video learning more affordable for emerging markets based on a 100x compression technology.
  • GraphLock (Arizona): Offers an affordable scientific and graphing calculator app with lockdown mode.
  • ImpactEd (North Carolina): Brings real-world projects into university classrooms across fields of study through a digital platform.
  • Lovoco (Pennsylvania): Develops speech and translation AI for academia, corporate learning, and distinguished orators.
  • PortableCloud (California): Enables people around the globe to access the full potential of the Information Age via easy access to the world’s information without the need for constant Internet connectivity.
  • Sown To Grow (California): Fosters a growth mindset and student agency through student goal-setting and reflection.
  • SPEAK MODalities (Indiana): Provides evidence-based language learning tools for minimally verbal students.

Previous finalists include Raise.meKinvolved, and Degreed—all of which have gone on to grow their ventures, attract investors, and have a positive impact on education. The EBPC is made possible through the generous support of the Milken Family Foundation, ACT, American Public University System, ChanceLight Behavioral Health and Education, iTutorGroup, and McGraw-Hill Education.

The competition is an established leader in the field of education innovation and a key destination for education entrepreneurs. Competition finalists will travel to Philadelphia’s Penn campus on April 25 to pitch their ventures to investors, researchers, and practitioners. The EBPC plans to launch a second competition focused on earlier-stage ideas later this fall.

The Milken family—several of whom are Penn graduates—embody the Franklin spirit and through successful educational entrepreneurship—from pre-K services through college education for working adults—as well as investments in educational enterprises, have demonstrated a commitment to the leaders of tomorrow. In their four decades of philanthropic activities, the Milken family has made innovation in education—as exemplified by the Milken Educator Awards and National Institute for Excellence in Teaching—a cornerstone of their work. Visit the Milken Family Foundation for more information.

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge-building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit

Find more on or follow the conversation on Twitter: @GSE_innovates and #MilkenPennGSE.


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