New ed-tech accelerator program offers $100K investments

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Butler University, Indianapolis-based TechPoint and Wisconsin-based Gener8tor are teaming up to offer a new startup accelerator with an eye-catching feature: Each of the five companies selected to participate will receive a $100,000 equity investment.

The program, to be called the Butler Accelerator for Education and Workforce Innovation Powered by Gener8tor, began accepting applications this week. The application deadline is Jan. 1, and the first cohort of the twice-per-year accelerator is set to begin in March. Details and the application portal can be found here.

The three-month program is geared toward early-stage companies working in the field of education technology, which generally refers to digital innovation in education. This could include innovations in K-12 education, universities, individual learning or corporate training.

There are no geographic restrictions on who can participate, which means cohort members could come from inside or outside of Indiana. All participants will be required to be in Indianapolis during the accelerator.

Gener8tor, a venture firm that operates dozens of accelerators in Indiana and elsewhere, will run the program. Activities will take place at both Butler and on the campus of 16 Tech, where TechPoint is located. All three organizations will offer their expertise and professional networks to help the accelerator participants build their businesses.

“It seems kind of like a dream team coming together with the three prongs of our different areas of expertise,” said Sarah Aubrey, a senior managing director at Gener8tor.

Equity investments in each of the startups will come from a Butler philanthropic fund, and the school is currently talking with potential additional investors, said Melissa Beckwith, Butler’s vice president for strategy and innovation.

Beckwith said the accelerator program is of interest to Butler for a few reasons.

As the types of education people seek—and the ways of delivering that programming—continue to evolve, Beckwith said Butler wants to connect with innovations that can help it continue to fulfill its missions of serving students and fostering innovation.

The accelerator, Beckwith said, “will attract some of the best and brightest startups, we believe, from across the country that are really looking to solve some of the biggest challenges in education and workforce learning. So we believe that by coming alongside startups that are doing that kind of work, it really helps Butler gain new perspectives, insights, ideas about what is happening.”

Butler can also potentially serve as a beta test site for the innovations that come out of the accelerator, Beckwith said.

Gener8tor is no stranger to Indiana. The organization already operates numerous Indiana-based accelerators, including Indianapolis-based gBETA accelerators focused on particular industries such as 5G technology, agbiosciences and the future of mobility.

But the ed tech accelerator will be Gener8tor’s first Indiana-based investment accelerator, Aubrey said. The other Indiana programs are geared for earlier-stage companies, and none of those accelerators come with an equity investment.

In total, Gener8tor currently operates 18 investment accelerators in the 45 markets in which it operates. It offers about 75 different programs in total, including investment accelerators, free accelerators, conferences, corporate programming and more.

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