6 Startups and Edtech Themes From LearnLaunch Demo Day

Education is one of the anchor industries of New England. And education technology is one of the region’s key growth areas for the future.

That was all on display at Wednesday’s demo day event for the graduating companies of Boston-based LearnLaunch’s third accelerator program. Each education-related company’s strategy touches on broader technology and business themes, some outside the traditional bounds of education.

Here are some quick thoughts on each startup and why it could be important:

Authess: This company develops mobile and online assessments for both educators and employers, using real-world scenarios and problems. Theme: bridging the skills gap between schools and industry, students and jobs. (See Smarterer, acquired by Pluralsight, and others.)

Education Modified: This startup makes research-based online teaching tools and materials to help special-needs students. Theme: making educational content more user-friendly for overworked teachers and kids growing up online. (See every big educational publisher out there.)

Knowledge to Practice: This company makes a clinical education platform, including content and self-assessment tools for certification, aimed at healthcare systems, medical centers, and doctors. Themes: blending edtech with health IT, and using modern technology to address professional development. (See Lynda.com/LinkedIn, Udemy, and dozens of other systems, but few specialize in medical education.)

Pip Learning Technologies: This startup handles security and user authentication/identity issues for school districts coming online and connecting their infrastructure to the cloud. Theme: applying authentication technologies from the corporate, healthcare, and financial realms to education. (See companies like Ping Identity for corporate and government customers.)

NI-O Toys: This quirky company makes 3D-printed “smart toys” that can be used in interactive play activities. Theme: merging games and toys with education. Always fun, and could be a good business if it can gain some traction. (See companies like Playrific in branded apps, and littleBits in DIY maker kits.)

Quill: This startup makes online activities for teaching writing, grammar, and vocabulary, aimed at middle and high school kids. (I tried it and it was good, but felt a bit like my work.) Themes: creating interactive online teaching materials and building a community of developers and educators. (See education publishers, as well as edtech companies ranging from Blackboard to Valore/Boundless.)

LearnLaunch co-founder Jean Hammond and BU's Vinit Nijhawan at demo day. (Image: LearnLaunch)

LearnLaunch co-founder Jean Hammond and Boston University’s Vinit Nijhawan at demo day. (Image: LearnLaunch)

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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