TU Incubator showcase hosts some of central Maryland’s top EdTech entrepreneurs

By Kyle Hobstetter on December 15, 2016

The inaugural showcase highlighted technological advancements in education

The TU Incubator hosted several of central Maryland's top EdTech entrepreneurs during its inaugural EdTech Innovation Showcase on Thursday, Dec. 8.
The TU Incubator hosted several of central Maryland's top EdTech entrepreneurs during its inaugural EdTech Innovation Showcase on Thursday, Dec. 8.

Towson University started as a small teacher’s college. Over 150 years later, TU is helping find new ways to enhance teacher preparation and education.  

This includes the Towson University Incubator placing a major focus on EdTech, or the integration of technological advancements into the educational experience.

The Incubator was proud to host the inaugural EdTech Innovation Showcase on Thursday, Dec. 8 at the 7400 Building. The showcase was a networking event featuring product demonstrations and lightning presentations from 12 central Maryland EdTech leaders.

The event featured participants from schools, districts, institutions of higher education, state agencies, investors, service providers, presenting and attending companies, and even a state senator totaling over 80 engaged attendees in the room.

For Frank Bonsal, director of entrepreneurship at TU, this showcase was a great way to publicize and promote some of the innovative EdTech startup companies housed in the local area to a diverse crowd.

“Baltimore is already known regionally and nationally as a hub of EdTech innovation,” Bonsal said. “But there are a lot of people, schools and other organizations that are not aware of what is being developed on their doorstep. Holding the showcase was a great way to publicize these innovative startup companies.”

The region has a long history of education innovation, and that has continued to thrive through the years. Through their research, the TU Incubator staff members have found over 140 EdTech companies in the Delaware–Maryland–Virginia region, with approximately half of those starting in the last five years and over half in metropolitan Baltimore.

Several of those companies were represented at the showcase, including nine companies that are members of the TU Incubator. Working with the Incubator, these businesses receive essential business support tools like:

  • Quality office facilities
  • Workshops and seminars that address key information, skills and resources
  • Customized counseling and access to an exclusive mentor network
  • Collaboration and networking opportunities with other member companies and partners.

Learn more about becoming a member of the TU Incubator

Communication Apptitude is an EdTech company started by speech-language pathologists Beth Lawrence and Deena Seifert. The company designs computer and device apps that provide updated ways to help children improve their language and vocabulary skills.

The two admitted they knew little about the business side of EdTech, but the help they received from the Incubator has been amazing.

“We share frequently how much we have benefited from all the support we have received as resident members of the TU Incubator,” Lawrence said. “The TU Incubator is where we have learned many, many business lessons, and where important connections have been made that have put us in the position of rapidly scaling our company.

“Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, so it is awesome to be in a truly supportive culture, with an emphasis on helping kids learn, and helping teachers and schools teach.”

And while there were plenty of TU Incubator members showcasing their products at the event, there were three companies who were there independently. Bonsal said while he enjoys seeing the Incubator members succeed, it’s just as important to give the independent companies a chance to share their product.

“This event was not just about our Incubator members. It was about supporting EdTech ecosystem,” Bonsal said. “From the outset we wanted to include companies from across the region. These independent small companies have great product offerings, and we wanted to give them the opportunity to pitch their innovations.”

As for the next phase of EdTech? Bonsal says we should continue to see growth in the number of startups' creative innovations and positive impacts on students and schools. He’s also hopeful that as EdTech continues to develop, more school districts will be willing and able to pilot and test new products in order to show the efficacy of the products and services.

“This will continue to enhance the region’s reputation and yield increases in the number and quality of enterprises in the industry,” Bonsal added. “It will also improve the effectiveness of students, teachers and administrators, as ultimately, the goal is to impact education.”

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University: BTU: Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore and TU matters to Maryland