Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition announces 2020 semifinalists

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The 28 semifinalists companies are focused on issues including social emotional learning, global citizenship, and combatting racism in schools.

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Jeff Frantz, Penn GSE Senior Associate Director of Communications

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PHILADELPHIA — Over 100 judges have selected 28 ventures as Semifinalists for the 2020 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition. From this group, judges will select between six and eight Finalists, to be announced in September, who will then compete in a live, virtual event on October 6, 2020 for tens of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. 

Considered the most prestigious and well-funded education business plan competition, the EBPC has earned a name for itself over the last decade for its ability to attract innovative ideas from around the world and spot winning education innovations early on in their growth. The EBPC is part of Catalyst @ Penn GSE, a collection and facilitator of unique, innovative initiatives at Penn GSE aimed at addressing persistent and emerging problems in education.

For the first time this year, the Competition welcomes as Semifinalists the grand-prize winners of four renowned international education business plan competitions: UCL EDUCATE Demo Day Competition (United Kingdom and Europe), EduGrowth’s Edtech Business Plan Competition (Australia), Global EdTech Startups Awards LATAM (Latin America; two winners), and EdTech Denmark (Nordic region). 

These celebrated international ventures—CanopyLAB, CloudLabs, Dystech, Naturebytes, WriteWise—will submit applications which will be judged alongside the other 23 semifinalists for a chance to compete as finalists in the October 6 live pitch event.

“We are thrilled that these impressive and competitive education entrepreneurs representing diverse regions of the world are getting the visibility, access, and opportunity to compete in the most prestigious competition in the world,” said Michael Golden, Executive Director of Catalyst @ Penn GSE.  “We look forward to including more international competition winners from other areas of the world in the future.”

The 2020 semifinalist ventures are based in 11 U.S. states and seven countries—including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom—and focus on diverse topics, including building social emotional intelligence and combatting racism through games, comics, and virtual role play; engaging at-risk students, including incarcerated individuals, with STEM education and work opportunities; and building high school students’ capacity for community and global citizenship through entrepreneurship.

The 2020 Semifinalist ventures, listed in alphabetical order below, are:

The AI Forum

The AI Forum offers an online learning program centered on equity and inclusive design to prepare students to thrive in the age of artificial intelligence.
(Founders: Ora Tanner, Alex Kotran, Ehrik Aldana)


A research-based social e-learning platform for developing competencies through individualized and adaptive learning experiences. 

(Founder: Sahra-Josephine Hjorth, Christian Skræm Juul Jensen)

Class Composer

Class Composer is an online tool to help elementary schools make better student placement decisions.

(Founders: Mike Cronley, Ed Khoukaz) 


CloudLabs offers more cost-effective, scalable, fun and engaging STEM education. Impacting the learning of today's youth and future workforce.

(Founder: Jiovany Orozco Parra) 


We scale human review of code, grading, and technical mentorship for leading tech education providers by utilizing the top 0.06% of tech talent in Africa.

(Founder: Riaz Moola) 


Coteacher is a platform that matches and pairs teachers for work-sharing, peer-coaching, and mentoring; we help exemplary teachers share their expertise so that best practices become common practice.

(Founders: Daniel Fountenberry, Sarib Mahmood) 


The world's first screening for dyslexia and dysgraphia using artificial intelligence.

(Founders: Hugo Richard, Jim Radford, Mathieu Serrurier, Gilles Richard) 


EdStarter is the world’s first platform that pairs technology industry opportunities with currently incarcerated individuals, providing a solution for those who are incarcerated to acquire education, employment, and a brighter future.

(Founders: Joshua Nathan, Babatunde Oladosu, Samuel Gersten, Kirithigaa Kalaivanan)

Escribo Innovation for Learning

Escribo Play is an evidence-based gamified platform that assesses and fosters early literacy, math, and science skills of preschool and kindergarten students.

(Founders: Americo Nobre Goncalves Ferreira Amorim)


Giving everyone in the world their own personalized, digital tutor.

(Founders: Christine Outram, Marc Feder, Laura Hubbard)


Fulphil provides social entrepreneurship training and education curriculum to develop global citizenship amongst high school students.

(Founders: Tiffany Yau, Riley Gonta)


GiveThx is a digital program that strengthens student wellbeing and social-emotional skills using gratitude science.

(Founders: Michael Fauteux, Amara Humphry, Javier Pérez)

Hire Cause

Hire Cause supports high schools and middle schools with career readiness programs that also have a social impact.

(Founder: David Dvorkin)

Jijenge Academy

We build the infrastructure for the poorest people in the world to break the cycle of poverty with distributed data labeling work.

(Founder: Vassiliki Daskalakis)


JustLearn has developed PlanetBox, a living ecosystem with tools and curriculum to empower teachers and students to address global sustainability, water access, and food production.

(Founder: Djimo Serodio)


We are an edtech company that focuses on building social emotional learning tools to ensure every child feels psychologically safe and supported in every environment.

(Founder: Samantha Pratt)

Literal makes real books just as addictive as social media with an engaging, group-chat format.

(Founders: Lawton Smith, Michael Romrell)


Community that creates and uses technology to reconnect people with wildlife in new, exciting ways.

(Founder: Steve Mowat)


An AR and 3D visualization and gamification tool which not only makes learning fun and engaging for students but also uses AI to capture data points while students interact with a specific lesson plans.

(Founders: Navera Waheed, Wajiha Habib)

Prisms of Reality

Through our next generation immersive learning and data analytics platform, replete with 3D sense-making tools, Prisms transfers ownership of the STEM learning process to the student and activates educators as masterful strategists who can plan with reliable data and high quality tools.

(Founder: Anurupa Ganguly)

Project Invent

Project Invent is a national nonprofit empowering students to invent technologies for community impact.

(Founder: Connie Liu)


SayKid has developed the world's first screen-less, play-based learning platform. By combining voice technology and tangible play, we help kids learn in a safe, natural, and engaging way - by empowering kids to play the role of teacher.

(Founders: DeLonn Crosby, Maria Crosby)


The SiLAS platform uses explicit Social Emotional Learning lessons directly connected to the CASEL’s Competences through gamification, animation, and role play in virtual environments.

(Founder: Christopher Dudick) 

Third Room

Virtual platform that connects industry professionals to rural STEM schools.

(Founders: Yefei Jin, Downey Meyer)


Tilt helps students understand and prepare for the true cost of college by projecting costs after merit and need-based aid and by analyzing financial aid award letters.

(Founder: Sinthuja Nagalingam)


TiskTask develops problem-solving skills by helping students solve real problems in their community.

(Founders: Katie Chastain, Scott Chastain) 

Weird Enough Productions

Weird Enough Productions uses comics and superheroes for social emotional learning, digital citizenship, and antiracism in schools.

(Founder: Tony Weaver, Jr.)


AI platform for writing and revising scientific articles.

(Founders: Eduardo Fuentes, Ashley VanCott)

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