WGU Labs Announces Finalists in Inaugural Accelerator Competition for Education Technology Entrepreneurs

Five finalist companies aim to shape tomorrow's learning landscape through inclusivity, accessibility, and AI innovation

SALT LAKE CITY, March 12, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- WGU Labs, a leader in accelerating education innovation, today announced five finalist companies for its inaugural Accelerator Pitch Competition. Selected from a field of more than 60 submissions, the finalists embody the entrepreneurial spirit of the competition to identify and support innovative solutions poised to transform the educational landscape through technology.

The finalist companies include: 

  • REACH Pathways: REACH Pathways addresses the challenges faced by first-generation and low-income students through a video game-inspired platform that provides community, mentorship, and financial aid. This innovative approach prepares them for in-demand careers, enhances student outcomes, and promotes social mobility by offering a sense of belonging, practical advice, and access to financial resources, paving a direct path to success for underserved students.
  • Studious: Studious helps busy professionals study through an AI-driven, gamified learning assistant. By leveraging cognitive and behavioral science, Studious democratizes access to quality upskilling and test preparation, enabling efficient skill acquisition, knowledge enhancement, and career progression for all.
  • Alma Learning: Alma Learning empowers time-crunched educators with AI 'Socratic' teacher replicas, offering personalized guidance and engaging students to overcome demotivation and improve learning outcomes. This approach enhances understanding, critical thinking, and lifelong learning, emphasizing quality and personalization through expert collaboration and research beyond mere content delivery.
  • Making Space: Making Space addresses disabled worker unemployment by providing free, employer-backed courses tailored to industry needs, coupled with advanced technology to match talent with careers. This initiative promotes long-term success, diversifies workforces, and challenges disability bias, establishing a benchmark for inclusive employment.
  • The ApplyAI: The ApplyAI offers personalized AI coaching to fill the career guidance void: helping users identify strengths, translate their skills into a compelling story on their applications, and navigate the job search process. Its goal is to enhance confidence, secure better jobs, and ensure equal opportunities for everyone.

The competition focused on five critical areas: Personalized Learning Paths, Skills-Based Hiring Solutions, AI-Powered Learning Support, Empowering Underrepresented Talent, and Simplified Access to Financial Aid. These topics were chosen for their potential to revolutionize learning experiences, making education more accessible, inclusive, and effective. 

The finalists were selected following a rigorous application process to identify ventures that not only have a transformative potential in education but are also led by teams capable of bringing their visions to life.

"Each finalist showcased in our inaugural Accelerator Pitch Competition embodies our mission to revolutionize education through technology,” said Brad Bernatek, Managing Director of the Accelerator at WGU Labs. “A common thread among these innovative companies is their commitment to inclusivity, accessibility, and the transformative power of AI in education. From personalized learning pathways that cater to underserved communities to AI-driven platforms that redefine how professionals upskill, our finalists are at the forefront of addressing the critical challenges of today's educational landscape. Their approaches underscore the importance of technology in enhancing learning outcomes and reflect a deeper understanding of the diverse needs of learners across the country.” 

The five finalists will attend the 2024 ASU+GSV Summit in April to pitch their solutions to a panel of judges consisting of senior leaders at WGU, alongside an audience of investors, stakeholders, and higher education leaders. The winner of the competition will receive a $50,000 cash investment for equity from the WGU Labs Fund, $25,000 in services from the WGU Labs Accelerator, and a paid pilot with WGU for up to $25,000 to support their future growth. 

In 2023, WGU Labs collaborated with 17 higher education institutions and 10 EdTech companies, conducted 16 research engagements, and invested $850,000 in EdTech startups, showcasing their broad impact across the educational sector.


About WGU Labs
WGU Labs is the nonprofit EdTech consulting, incubation, research, and design arm of Western Governors University, where our mission is to identify and support scalable solutions that address the biggest challenges in education today. The Accelerator at WGU Labs provides research, market development and product enhancement services to early-stage education businesses. Through these services, as well as financial investments, the Accelerator advances the scale and impact of education companies that share its mission to increase student access, lower student costs and improve student outcomes. Learn more at wgulabs.org or follow us on LinkedIn.


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