#SXSWedu – InnovationU. Unlocking the University-as-Incubator

Session Description

Universities develop and commercialize IP in critical areas, from medicine to particle physics. Yet, despite being the most well positioned for the task, universities have not played as big of a role in developing EdTech. Instead of more technologies in search of a problem, university-grown innovation can help to develop user-focused solutions: technology made for educators, by educators. The university-as-innovation-playground approach allows entrepreneurs to prototype and iterate quickly with faculty and students on campus. Hear from academics-turned-entrepreneurs who have successfully used this approach to develop and launch technologies aimed at the biggest challenges in higher ed. 


  • The politics of a university can be a challenge or barrier for innovation – if you intend to commercialize or sustain the idea into a product.
  • Perry Samson from the University of Michigan created the Weather Underground and LectureTools which was recently purchased by echo360. Perry has also created a new incubator called Eduvators out of the University of Michigan TechArb.
  • The University of Virginia’s school of education has generated 5 startups through the Jefferson Startup Incubator.
  • Part of the incubation process involves extensive and rich use of the technology. Rich test beds of options for developers and new ideas can emerge and be engaged by users.
  • How do we best manage innovation at our universities… At scale?
  • Nimble and quick versus our monolithic large universities.
  • The interest in EdTech by faculty should be based on need in the classroom. Do teachers see the value of trying something new in the classroom? What are we providing re: EdTech – that makes your job as a faculty member better or easier.
  • If we know in week 3 that a student is likely to fail – based on data/analytics predications – now what do we do? If we don’t do anything, are we liable?

We need learning sensors in the field to forecast the success of students. – Perry Samson

  • How do we help students succeed is the key question. Everything boils down to this.
  • Some of the value of #EdTech is difficult to evaluate because in many ways we (higher Ed) struggle with valid assessment.
  • Ideas need to be vetted, because you can’t support everyone and some ideas are not ready for prime time.
  • Encourage students to take courses on entrepreneurship to create a culture of idea generation and venturing forward.
  • Delivery of content is 1 piece of #EdTech – but it can be much more. We need a broader definition of student outcomes like initiative, leadership + how do we assess these?
  • What are the REAL problems we are facing now vs what problems we are desiring to solve.
  • Where is our focus and how do we know where to start? Hackathons can generate ideas for solutions.
  • “Kegenars” with beverages allow students (of age) and faculty to have a conversation and generate ideas.
  • Support for bubble up ideas by central administration is important.

Every campus should have space to generate and collect new ideas while also putting some money behind it.

    View Video

    2 thoughts on “#SXSWedu – InnovationU. Unlocking the University-as-Incubator

    1. Pingback: eLearning and Emerging Technologies @GVSU

    2. Pingback: #SXSWedu Fostering Innovation in Teaching and Learning via #EdTech | eLearning and Emerging Technologies @GVSU

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google photo

    You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s