Technology leaders in Minneapolis-St. Paul have formed a monthly networking discussion forum know as “Educelerate Twin Cities” in hopes that educational technology will become the next big industrial success for the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
The forum brings together 125 industry and education partners committed to education innovation. One of the men behind the forum is attorney Steve Wellvang. In a column by Neal St. Anthony of The Star-Tribune, Wellvang describes an upcoming event called “Startup Weekend EDU” being held at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management the first weekend in May.
The goal is to bring entrepreneurs together in a collaborative environment and develop new business ideas over an “intensive weekend of activities,” according to Wellvang.
The weekend will bring together educators, technologists, designers, business professionals and financiers for 54 hours for idea sharing, team projects design and start-up launches. The weekend begins Friday night with 60-second pitches that will lead to small team formation around what are considered the most viable concepts. Teams spend Saturday and Sunday focusing on user research, customer development, idea validation and prototype development, with the assistance of experienced educators.
Members of the forum are hoping to make education technology the next great industry in the Twin Cities and across the state, much was as previously accomplished with medical technology.
According to an article by Melanie Sommer of website Bring Me The News, Minnesota is home to several large medical technology firms, is No. 1 in the country in number of jobs per capita related to medical tech, and has 400 companies dedicated to biopharmaceuticals or the biologic industries.
With school districts across the company beginning to embrace online and digital technology as a real, applicable means of reaching more students in a more effective manner, education technology has become a popular industry buzzword in the past 5-10 years.
Baltimore, Maryland, is considered one of the current leaders in education technology. The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore was a sponsor of the first annual Education Technology Innovation Summit last summer in New York City, with numerous speakers from companies in Baltimore headlining the event.
Educelerate has similar monthly forums in other cities including Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, and is part of a larger network known as EdReach, which uses all forms of technology to share ideas about education technology, including podcasts, webinars, social media and discussion boards.
According to the EdReach website, the organization’s vision is to:
Provide a platform for passionate, outspoken innovators – aiming to strengthen their voices by highlighting innovation in the field of education, through reporting critical educational news, providing commentary and offering criticism of the education issues of the day.