A new incubator to support startups developing higher-education technology will open Wednesday in the 1871 tech hub in the Merchandise Mart.
The incubator’s lead sponsor is the research-and-development arm of DeVry Education Group, the Downers Grove-based parent of DeVry University and other for-profit specialty schools.
The R&D arm, known as DV X, will provide the startups with prototyping sessions, business-education workshops, DeVry academic leader meet-ups and other resources in 2,000 square feet of space that DV X shares with a career accelerator program called Startup Institute.
Jeff Dunn, senior director at DV X, said the five-person R&D unit has worked remotely with startups for the past few years in Austin, Boston, New York and San Francisco, but decided to set up a “gathering place” close to home.
The incubator has accepted its first four startups:
  • Youtopia, based in Chicago, focuses on developing a gaming platform that lets learners earn points and badges as they meet greater challenges.
  • SmartyPants, based in Los Angeles, developed a mobile app that helps students quickly set up study groups.
  • YuJa, based in San Jose, California, combines lecture captioning, live broadcasting, social learning and video collaborating onto a single platform, allowing students to access the content from anywhere and anytime.
  • Century Tech, based in London, developed a platform that uses data analytics and artificial intelligence to adjust to each student’s learning progress.
The incubator kickoff Wednesday will feature a “fireside chat” and roundtable discussion at 1871 with technology executives about the challenges facing startups in education technology and the value of their partnering with universities.