ASU, Draper Partner for Education Technology Accelerator

(Photo: ASU Magazine)

(Photo: ASU Magazine)

Arizona State University is launching an initiative that will help get education technology into the market faster by permitting new tech ventures to be tested by its students and faculty.

The initiative, known as ASU Draper GSV Accelerator, will pilot, fund, and source new products designed by higher education technology companies. ASU President Michael Crow said that technology will serve as an equalizer, helping make valuable education accessible to everyone regardless of their geographic, ethnic, or income background.

“This is a social issue not yet resolved. It’s like we liv in two separate countries,” Crow said of lower college-attainment rates of low-income families. He added that ASU’s investments and development in higher-ed technology, particularly its Global Freshman Academy, have allowed “us to affect the college-going rate, the college-success rate, and to break down barriers, break down gaps.”

The Accelerator initiative, according to the website ASUNOW, will allow companies that successfully complete a highly-selective program to receive a certification of market-preparedness, which lets consumers and distributors know that their products are ready to use. Additionally, for four to six months, the companies will have access to ASU’s on-campus network of faculty, staff, students to test the effectiveness of their products.

The Initiative will bring students and faculty together in prototyping technology. The Initiative will connect ASU”s 72,000 physical students with its more than 20,000 online-immersion students. The participating companies will be selected to present and demo their products through ASU’s Initiative by August 1, 2016.

Participating companies will give up to two to five percent of equity in return for up to $50,000 in funding for transportation and product development costs. There is no geographic limitation for interested participants and no requirement for re-location, according to Tony Wan of Edsurge.

The first company accepted into the program is CampusLogic, a firm that has developed personalized, cloud-based tools to simplify the financial aid process. “We’ve had early success with over 50 customer institutions across the nation. This partnership with ASU will accelerate our growth and give us access to additional resources as we vet the next generation of CampusLogic products,” said Gregg Scoresby, the CEO of CampusLogic.

The new initiative comes as no surprise to those in the tech industry or those in higher education. To date, Arizona State University, the nation’s largest public university system, has invested in 64 edtech companies. “Innovate and partner, innovate and partner,” Crow said at the unveiling of the Initiative. “We’re creating a way to take new ideas from companies in the edtech space, and walk them through the process of prototyping their tools our testbed of students and faculty.”

The Accelerator Initiative will run two programs per year, with five to seven startups in each group. Each applicant should have raised a set amount of capital with products that are ready to be tested. The program’s website details all of the requirements for participation and other relevant information about Accelerator.