It’s an idea that is becoming more and more common these days—the Innovation Incubator. Advances within education technology industry are running rampant…and that’s a good thing! There are multiple organizations making it a priority to acknowledge the products and services that go above and beyond in the world of learning technologies. And we applaud them for these efforts.
So what exactly is an Innovation Incubator? For that answer we go back to the start of this phenomenon. The year was 2006 The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) Education Division began raising awareness for the many new products and services they were watching be introduced into the marketplace. They saw a growing number of entrepreneurs developing and distributing some of the most innovative learning technologies they had seen. As always, SIIA wanted to play a meaningful role in the effort to improve education through software, digital content and related technologies. For that reason, they created the industry’s first-ever Innovation Incubator Program at the 2006 Ed Tech Business Forum in New York.
“The development of a program that would highlight the best, most innovative ideas for entrepreneurs looking for feedback, funding and distribution seemed like a natural fit for the Education Division,” said Karen Billings, the Division’s Vice President. “We’ve provided support for dozens of successful products and companies in their efforts. It’s a great way for successful industry leaders to provide one-on-one mentorship to innovators in the industry.”
Within the SIIA program, participation is open to any company with a functional website and a fully reviewable (finished) product. The next Innovation Incubator Program will be held at the Ed Tech Industry Summit, May 5-7 in San Francisco. Their panel of industry professional judges will select 10 finalists and 1 alternate to present their products to conference attendees. One winner in each of the following categories will be selected: Most Innovative, Most Likely to Succeed in addition to the most recent award, the Educator’s Choice Award (in partnership with edWeb.net and MCH Strategic Data) along with other prizes. The deadline to apply is March 8, 2013. I encourage you to visit their website, learn more and apply.
Other organizations have followed suit and developed similar programs of their own including the Center for Education Technology and SXSWedu. There are quite a few more, some of which are listed here in an article written for GettingSmart.com. http://gettingsmart.com/cms/blog/2012/10/10-cool-edtech-incubators-aiming-change-education-forever/
Some of the most valuable aspects of incubator programs are the chance for companies to have visibility with key industry leader mentors and gain insight from peers, publishers, tech companies and investment firms. Companies from start-ups to established innovators should all consider participating in Incubator programs happening around the world. It’s good for business and it’s even better for the future of education.
Recent SIIA Innovation Incubator winners include the following:
2012 Ed Tech Industry Summit
- Filament Games (Most Innovative Award and Most Likely to Succeed runner-up)
- Language Express (Most Likely to Succeed Award and Most Innovative runner-up)
- Clever (Most Likely to Succeed and Most Innovative Company Awards)
- Classroom, Inc. (Educators Choice Award)
- Fluidity Software, Inc. for Fluid Math (Most Innovative)
- Footsteps2Brilliance Early Learning Mobile Platform (Most Likely to Succeed)
- Emantras, Inc. for Mobl21 (Most Innovative)
- Impact Education for SkillsTutor Mobile (Most Likely to Succeed)
What do you think? Are Incubator programs here to stay? Do you think they’re beneficial for entrepreneurs in the education space? We’d love to hear your thoughts and insights!