Event creates connections between Towson University and the edtech community
TU Incubator, Towson University’s business incubator, supports the largest cluster of edtech startups in the state. These companies are focused solely on bringing innovation, productivity and effectiveness to all levels of education—early childhood, K-12, postsecondary, workforce, and lifelong learning.
On Thursday, October 4, TU Incubator hosted the third iteration of the EdTech Innovation Showcase. The networking event seeks to match edtech member companies with potential investors, customers and strategic partners.
The event also connects TU Incubator member companies to the College of Education, which has been a leader in supporting education technology through diverse academic programming. Currently, five member companies have ongoing usage across the university, two in the College of Education.
“Entrepreneurship, innovation, and education technology are core to our vision and mission,” said Mahnaz Moallem, chair of TU’s Department of Educational Technology & Literacy. “We really look forward to a mutual relationship or partnership with our innovative startup companies who are presenting here tonight.”
“We’re hoping that we can help and assist TU Incubator companies to expand their power and benefits of their products for learning performance.”
In opening remarks, David Vanko, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, pointed out TU Incubator member companies have raised more than $32 million in capital, created over 1,000 jobs, and provided internships to over 150 TU students.
“This is remarkable. TU Incubator is a benefit to our students, faculty and the larger community,” said Vanko.
He jokingly added that his “edtech experience consisted of colored chalk, overhead projectors, acetates, and things of that nature.”
The EdTech Innovation Showcase featured product demonstrations and lightning pitches from 21 member companies.
TransitioningU, a TU Incubator member company since 2016, was one of them. The startup’s team is focused on student retention and engagement on college campuses via a student-facing mobile platform that integrates with a university’s current systems. Their mobile platform recruits prospective students, automates personalized interventions, and induces career alignment, all in a user-friendly, mobile experience.
Joshua Smith serves as Chief Academic Officer of TransitioningU. He said it’s exciting to be part of TU Incubator and the EdTech Innovation Showcase, adding that the event brings in top talent from across the country.
“Events like this help our team to make inroads with customers and investors. To see the type of turn out—from students and faculty members to investors and customers—really makes this a worthwhile event for us,” Smith noted.
Nancy Weinstein traveled from Princeton, NJ, to demo her product at the event. She is the founder and CEO of Mindprint Learning, a virtual member of TU Incubator. Mindprint Learning is an online cognitive assessment platform that helps parents and educators better understand how students learn and what types of support they need to be successful.
“It’s been a phenomenal opportunity for us to attend this event two years in a row. It allows us to meet people from across the education ecosystem and to interact with other member companies,” said Weinstein.
Although, this year’s event attracted over 150 attendees, Weinstein said she was able to talk to nearly everyone in the room in a productive and communal way. “This event is manageable, unlike other larger conferences I attend. It’s very community focused,” she said.
For Katie Egan, CEO and co-founder of CourseArc, participating in the EdTech Innovation Showcase is a “win-win,” partly because it’s held on a university campus. CourseArc is a highly interoperable online course design platform that allows subject matter experts to create engaging and accessible content that removes technology as a barrier.
“There is already a focus on education. From the start, attendees understand the space and the market. When they get to our table, they understand the concept of what we do,” said Egan.
While the main focus of the event is to connect TU Incubator member companies with customers and investors, the EdTech Innovation Showcase also brings strategic partners to campus, including Calvert Education, Sylvan Learning, Baltimore County government and the Maryland Department of Commerce.
“The Maryland Department of Commerce is proud to support this event and support Towson University’s work through TU Incubator to build and promote edtech in the State of Maryland,” said Sharon Markley, Director, Education & Innovation, Maryland Department of Commerce.
“We realize there’s some magic here,” she added. “There’s something happening in edtech in Maryland and we want that to grow. We want national startups to know about Maryland and what we’re doing to bring more startups to our state.”
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland, BTU-Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore.