The Penn State EdTech Network wants to hear your BIG IDEA

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$252 billion by 2020. That’s how big EdTechXGlobal projects the international market for educational technology, or EdTech, will become.

Now the Penn State EdTech Network, in partnership with Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central & Northern PA and Penn State’s Small Business Development Center is sponsoring a first-ever BIG IDEA EdTech Contest to promote the promising sector.

“One of the reasons that we are running the contest is to get a feel for the EdTech startup landscape in Pennsylvania,” says Heather Fennessey McWhorten, executive director of the Small Business Development Center. “We believe that this sector has potential for both job growth and innovation. Our goal [is] to advance Penn State’s teaching and learning capabilities, increase EdTech leadership through research, and help drive economic development in the state. The BIG IDEA Contest is one way to engage innovators and entrepreneurs, and to help spur business startups.”

The organizers define EdTech as “the study and practice of designing effective instruction using technology, media and learning theory. EdTech encompasses products or solutions that aim to improve the educational performance and overall student experience in K-12 and higher education learning environments both online and in-person.”

Our goal is to advance Penn State’s teaching and learning capabilities, increase EdTech leadership through research, and help drive economic development in the state.Heather Fennessey McWhorten

The contest is accepting applications through January 9 from budding entrepreneurs, teachers, students and software developers. To be eligible, applicants must be located in Pennsylvania, and developing or commercializing an EdTech concept or product. Established companies must be pre-revenue or below $500,000 in annual sales, and have fewer than 25 employees. (Click here to download an application.)

According to Fennessey McWhorten, a panel of judges will screen the applications in January and “move the best ideas forward. Then we will work with those innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses to prepare them for the public judging. The by-invitation pitch night will be on March 1.”

Three winners will receive $35,000, $7,500 and $2,500 respectively.

The Penn State EdTech Network was established in 2015 as part of university President Eric Barron’s $30 million Invent Penn State initiative aimed at driving job creation, economic development and student career success. Its mission is to “promote collaboration among companies, students, faculty, staff and alumni to foster the development of transformational educational technology.”

ELISE VIDER is news editor of Keystone Edge.

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