Winners Announced for Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition for Ventures

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Over $120,000 in Prize Money Awarded

Media Contact: 

Kat Stein, | 215-898-9642
Jeff Frantz,   | 215-898-3269

*Note for TV and radio: The University of Pennsylvania has an on-campus ISDN line and ready access to a satellite uplink facility with live-shot capability.

PHILADELPHIA, PA, April 25, 2017 — The University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) and the Milken Family Foundation have announced the winners of the eighth annual Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition (EBPC). Cash prizes totaling over $120,000 were awarded this afternoon to winning ventures aiming to make an impact in such arenas as language learning for minimally verbal students, eyewear to help correct attention deficits, and a graphic calculator app with a patent-pending lockdown mode to prevent cheating.

Additionally, all finalists had the opportunity to pitch their ventures to an audience of investors, researchers, and practitioners gathered because the EBPC, the largest competition of its kind, 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 EBPC is considered the most prestigious, well-funded and longest-running education business plan competition in the U.S. Additionally, all finalists are considered for the EDSi Fellows Program. The 2017 EBPC Venture Path winners are:

  • SPEAK MODalities (Indiana) won both the Milken Family Foundation Grand Prize ($40,000) and ChanceLight Behavioral Health and Education Prize ($20,000). The company providing evidence-based language learning tools for minimally verbal students.
  • Winner of the ACT Prize ($20,000) is Awear Technologies (Minnesota). The company designs neurocognitive eyewear to help students correct attention deficits and improve reading comprehension and learning.
  • The American Public University System Prize: ($20,000) was awarded to GraphLock (Arizona), a venture offering an affordable scientific and graphing calculator app with a patent-pending lockdown mode. Additionally, a live poll of guests netted GraphLock a Voter’s Choice award of $1,000.
  • iTutor Group Prize ($20,000) went to DOT LEARN (Massachusetts), which makes hours of video learning more affordable for emerging markets based on a 100x compression technology.


“I am inspired by the talent and the tenacity of today’s winners, who believe, as we do, that every child has the right to a high quality education,” said Gregory Milken of the Milken Family Foundation. “This competition continues to identify and nurture some of the best ideas in education – ideas that aim to be transformative. We’re proud to be a part of it.”

“Our competition is a place for entrepreneurs with bold ideas to create new opportunities for learners at all stages of life,” said Bobbi Kurshan, Penn GSE Executive Director of Academic Innovation. “We’re proud of how past winners have already helped educators, students and families, and we’re excited to see how this year’s participants make their mark.”

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. Twenty past competitors have been named to Forbes 30 under 30 education list.

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. The EBPC plans to launch a second competition focused on earlier-stage ideas in the fall of 2018. 

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. 


You May Be Interested In