Ed. Design Studio Names CEO, Selects New Ed-Tech Cohort

The Education Design Studio Inc., a hybrid incubator and seed fund established in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, recently named Rita Ferrandino as its new chief executive officer.

Rita Ferrandino
Rita Ferrandino

The organization also chose a cohort of seven early-stage ventures to go through its program. Ferrandino said her vision for the 2016-2017 cohort is “to actively support our companies so they can accelerate their growth and positively improve learning for more students across the globe.”

Ferrandino brings over 30 years of experience in education to EDSi, including serving as the CEO of the Chicago Education Publishing Company, as an advisory board member for Quick Key, and most recently as a founding partner of Arc Capital Development, a private equity and advisory firm.

The EDSi Fellows are entrepreneurial-minded individuals whose ventures support innovation in education. Selected from more than 300 applicants worldwide, their projects range from artificial intelligence math tutoring to neuroscience learning.

The Design Studio fund is a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and seasoned venture capitalists and investors. The fund specifically emphasizes the importance of good research for any education business. It is built to allow entrepreneurs the longer incubation time to work in the education space, while connecting them with investors and advisers.

All of the Education Design Studio companies this year have existing revenue and/or funding; a sales pipeline; intellectual property in areas such as software or curriculum development; and the potential to gain leadership in a specific market and/or industry niche, according to the organization.

Among the fourth cohort for EDSi are:

  • 2gno.me (New York, NY) – a personalized professional development solution and for students to build better self-awareness;
  • Caseworx (Long Beach, CA) – a video-based, interactive collaboration platform that focuses on experiential learning;
  • Litmus Interactive (Ireland) – a personal digital math tutor app;
  • NeuroTinker, LLC (Philadelphia, PA) – maker of an electronic toy teaching how the nervous system works;
  • Nomster Chef (New York, NY) – a program aimed at helping parents cook with their pre-schoolers to develop healthy eating habits;
  • TriviaNote (Philadelphia, PA) – a socially oriented study platform designed to help students save time and retain more of what they learned by automatically transforming class notes into quizzes, flashcards, and “player vs. player” trivia challenges.

In the six-month program, EDSI Fellows follow a curriculum delivered during monthly three-day intensive weekends at the Oxford Mills Innovation Center in Philadelphia and via weekly virtual sessions. “We work with our companies to set milestones and help them achieve benchmarks,” Ferrandino said. “We review team progress and give specific feedback for next steps.”

The organization also introduces the fellows to people in the ed-tech industry and supports these companies at conferences and events, she said.

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