WISE Accelerator program – now inviting 2020-21 submissions - opens up new horizons for edtech ventures
Aspiring change-makers who want to help transform the future of education through technology are moving their ideas to the point where they can directly benefit people’s lives – thanks to Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Education.
The global education think-tank has supported 32 edtech ventures from 18 countries through its WISE Accelerator program, which gives social entrepreneurs whose solutions have the potential to help reimagine education the tailor-made support, expert guidance, and international connections they need to take their ventures to the next level.
And as the program opens for its next round of submissions, some of its alumni have spoken about how the WISE Accelerator has altered their perceptions of what their edtech ideas can make possible in the sphere of global education.
Among them is David Ristagno, CEO of Uptale, a French startup that enables people to devise, build, and publish immersive learning experiences through using Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology. It is now being used by 220 organizations, and Ristagno says: “I heard about the WISE Accelerator from a former startup team who were involved in the program, and who told us about the great mentoring and opportunities it provided.
Essentially, the program is a group of startups and a lot of talented people who care about them. And, within the WISE Accelerator, all of us are important.
“The mentoring that the WISE Accelerator offers is really impressive – it’s very hands-on, which leads to real co-creation and effective results in sales and marketing. It’s well-organized, very inspiring, and gives you access to high-level organizations and people who make an impact as well as opening your eyes to what’s going on in the world of education.
“Essentially, the program is a group of startups and a lot of talented people who care about them. And, within the WISE Accelerator, all of us are important.”
Through linking young entrepreneurs with a global network of education stakeholders, whose insights they can tap into, the WISE Accelerator aims to help them overcome challenges that can stand in the way of them developing and expanding their ventures.
During their year in the program, the startups who form its annual cohorts have the opportunity to attend international events and benefit from access to networking opportunities.
Having an edtech platform with international recognition goes a long way.
with potential new partners and investors. David Berg, founder of ImBlaze – an initiative that enables educators to design systems that steer students toward internships that suit their interests – met everyone from investors to education leaders during his initiative’s time in the 2018-19 edition of the WISE Accelerator, and said: “Having an edtech platform with international recognition goes a long way.”
As part of the program, ventures are provided with the mentorship they need to grow beyond the WISE Accelerator, with Berg saying: “We simply would not have had the capacity to learn the business, marketing, and compliance needs of the edtech marketplace without WISE – ImBlaze is quickly growing, and WISE was a big help in that growth.”
Successful applicants who join the program also become part of a community of innovators and mentors who are experts in the field of education. Livox is one of the ventures that has discovered the benefits of this. A software that helps non-verbal people to communicate, it is being used in schools in the US, Brazil, Sudan, and other countries to support more than 25,000 people with disabilities and learning impairments in learning to read, write, and analyze complex concepts.
According to its CEO, Carlos Pereira: “I applied for the WISE Accelerator because it is focused on education, and I believe that people with disabilities must not be left behind when it comes to education.
The experiments that the mentors provide are true opportunities to get things done, not just conversations.
“During my time in the program, I made some amazing contacts and got some amazing insights through the acceleration process. I especially loved the mentorship element, and the co-creation process is a true hands-on approach – much more than the usual mentor-mentee program.
“The focus that the WISE Accelerator places on education is remarkable, and the experiments that the mentors provide are true opportunities to get things done, not just conversations. Anyone who is really interested in scaling their educational solutions should consider applying, because the possibilities are amazing.”
The submission period for the WISE Accelerator’s 2020-21 edition closes at 4pm GMT on April 20. Applications will be judged by the program team alongside experts in education and social entrepreneurship, with the initiatives selected to be part of its next cohort being announced in September 2020. To apply, visit www.wise-qatar.org/wise-accelerator.