McGraw-Hill, Other Companies Invest in UPenn Startup Venture

Managing Editor

A company with one of the biggest names in education, McGraw-Hill Education, is among the latest to invest in school-focused startups, through a program run out of the University of Pennsylvania.

McGraw-Hill is investing in the Education Design Studio, Inc., an incubator and seed fund that is a collaboration between the university’s graduate school of education and venture capitalists and investors.

The graduate program has placed a major emphasis in recent years on supporting startups with targeted advice, research, and financing, with the goal of helping them succeed and bringing new ideas to K-12 systems. McGraw-Hill says it will consult and provide funding to companies that were chosen through a competition organized by the graduate school.

Interest in the study of education entrepreneurship has grown on postsecondary campuses in recent years. UPenn officials have said they see their program as unusual, in that it attempts to provide startups with holistic support from several angles, rather than just money.

The design studio is a $2.1 million program backing a number of early-stage startups. The school of education has said  investors in the effort so far include McGraw-Hill; Ron Packard, the CEO and founder of K12 Inc.; Steve and Jessica Melman from Dermazoo; and John Katzman, the CEO of the Noodle Companies. Earlier this year, the graduate school said that five startups would be receiving support: Apidapter, ApprenNet, Autism Expressed, Raise Labs, and scrible.

(See Education Week‘s past coverage of the graduate school’s investment in fledgling education companies, as well as our reporting that follows a pair of startups as they seek to find their footing.)

 “Creating an ecosystem in which startups can thrive is paramount to their short- and long-term success,” said Bobbi Kurshan, executive director of academic Innovation at Penn’s graduate school of education, in a statement. She said the program is grateful to McGraw-Hill and her program’s other backers “for embracing this new paradigm and for bringing such seasoned professionals and expertise to this program.” 

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