Penn Graduate School of Education Opens Business Plan Competition Submissions; Top Prize $25,000

PHILADELPHIA –- The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and the Milken Family Foundation have announced that the 2011 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition is open for submissions.

            Entering its second year, this global competition is the first contest specifically aimed at stimulating entrepreneurship and addressing challenges in education.  It is designed to connect social entrepreneurs to venture capitalists and other funders interested in improving education.

The goal is to support new ideas in education.  These ideas can be non-profit or for-profit, can be focused on any learner from infants to seniors and can take the shape of business services, technological tools, professional development programs, curricula, etc.

            The first place prize of $25,000, the second place prize $15,000.

The deadline for initial summary submissions is Dec. 3.  Semi-finalists will be announced on Jan. 25, 2011, and invited to submit complete business plans.

            “Connecting people with great ideas for educational improvement to venture capitalists and to others who have similar imagination and energy can be challenging,” Andy Porter, dean of Penn GSE, said.  “In its first award cycle, this business plan competition proved that making those connections is possible.  We helped bring robust, well-tested ideas to the marketplace.  We think this is a very powerful strategy, and we’re confident the momentum will continue through the competition’s second year.”

            “More money is spent on education than on health care in the U.S. but with few results,” Doug Lynch, vice dean of Penn GSE, said.  “Innovation and entrepreneurship can address problems in education.  We’re excited to see what great ideas will come from this competition.”

            “The Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition is designed to challenge the status quo and transform the education space,” said Gregory Milken, a member of Penn GSE’s board of overseers and the Milken Family Foundation board of trustees.  “This competition will create opportunities for entrepreneurs, educators and, ultimately, students.”

Last year’s first prize winners, Shaun Sims and Andrew Mills from Austin, Texas, created Digital Proctor, a system that analyzes student behavior in online classrooms, identifies suspicious activity through keyboard usage and algorithms, detects financial-aid fraud and helps to increase student-retention rates.  Digital Proctor was selected from 125 submissions from around the world. 

            Supporting Penn GSE and the Milken Family Foundation in the business plan competition are Penn’s Wharton School and Fels Institute of Government.

            Additional information is available at or