Over the past weeks and months we’ve blogged fairly regularly about the Education startup accelerator/incubator scene. As EdTech continues to make dramatic inroads into the ELT industry, a few future-savvy ELT publishing companies have taken the initiative and positioned themselves as close to the EdTech source as possible by sponsoring or hosting their own startup incubators. The move is a canny one; why wait for an innovative startup to forge its own way into the market place only to be snapped up by a keen-eyed competitor when you can catch them when they are just starting out and thus guide their efforts so they are in line with your publishing vision. There is great value in engaging with and encouraging EdTech innovators and entrepreneurs, and it’s with that belief that ELTjam approached Accelerate Cambridge, the in-house early venture accelerator of Cambridge Judge Business School, about collaborating on Cambridge’s first ever EdTech Startup Weekend on the 23rd-25th May.
Startup Weekends are globally coordinated events that bring together entrepreneurs, developers and startup enthusiasts with investors and industry leaders to discover and develop innovative business ideas and to start shaping them into fledgling startups. The network has delivered Startup Weekends in nearly 500 cities around the world and has been the breeding ground for thousands of startups. The format is pretty simple: participants bring along their ideas, and the weekend kicks off with a series of 60-second pitches on the Friday night. The best ideas are chosen and teams form around them. The teams then spend the rest of the weekend shaping the ideas into business plans and pitches, with the support of a team of highly-experienced coaches drawn from the worlds of education, technology and business.
At the end of the weekend, the teams pitch their concepts to a panel of expert judges for more feedback and a chance to take their business on to the next level. Among the panel of judges for the EdTech Startup Weekend is Cambridge University Press CEO Peter Phillips and Jack Lang, founder of the hugely successful Raspberry Pi Foundation – the organisation behind the phenomenon that is the Raspberry Pi computer.
We at ELTjam are immensely excited about the whole thing, especially as it’s an ideal opportunity to get involved in discovering and getting to know the next wave of EdTech innovators straight out of the gate. If it sounds like something you’re interested in (and you can get yourself to Cambridge) then come and join in, otherwise we’re looking forward to sharing our experience of the event here on the blog.