Tuesday, September 09, 2014

DeVry schools startups with 1871 education incubator

DeVry schools startups with 1871 education incubator
September 09, 2014

Jeff Dunn, senior director of DV X, DeVry Education Group Inc.'s research and development unit

DeVry Education Group Inc. is teaming up with 1871 on an incubator for education-technology startups.
DeVry, already an 1871 sponsor, is launching the EdTech Incubator, expecting to admit up to 10 startups spread over two classes annually. The program will take applications from entrepreneurs nationwide.

The Downers Grove-based company, which runs a for-profit network of schools and has an enrollment of more than 100,000, will provide the startups with access to and mentoring from its executives. They'll offer feedback on the startups' ideas and test the most promising ones at its campuses. The company also will host education programs at 1871, which is housed in the Merchandise Mart.

"It will help us improve teaching and learning. We'll co-create solutions we can pilot across DeVry," said Jeff Dunn, senior director of DV X, DeVry's research and development unit.

1871 CEO Howard Tullman

It's the latest incubator at 1871 to focus on a specific industry — part of an effort by CEO Howard Tullman to increase corporate sponsorship and get the region's large companies more involved with its startups. Other incubators and accelerators announced so far will focus on real estate and startups led by military veterans.

Large companies such as DeVry are paying closer attention to startups as they look to reinvent their businesses.

"Chicago's vast network of schools, educators and students presents a wide range of opportunities for technology to dramatically improve the way students receive education," Mr. Tullman said in a statement.

For DeVry, the education-technology incubator at 1871 is an evolution of a program it has been running for several years. DeVry has piloted more than a half-dozen experimental programs based on work done by startups such as Civitas Learning, an Austin, Texas-based company that provides analytics about student performance.

Civitas helped DeVry better identify specific test scores that were better indicators of students' eventual success. "It changed how we rated test scores," Mr. Dunn told me. "We first engaged them over two years ago. It was very much a co-creation. We learned firsthand what works."

DeVry is on the verge of small-scale adoption of technology developed by two or three other startups, with plans for wider adoption, Mr. Dunn said.

Follow John on Twitter at @JohnPletz.

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