Software that keeps students from cheating on online coursework was awarded the top prize at the inaugural Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition, the first and only business plan competition designed to use innovation to improve education.
The winners, Shaun Sims, 23, and Andrew Mills, 28, from Austin, Texas walked away with the first-place title and $25,000 in prize money on June 3, for their idea called “Digital Proctor.” The software program helps make online education and testing more secure. It also analyzes student behavior in online classrooms, identifies suspicious activity, detects financial aid fraud and increases student retention rates.
Aimed at stimulating entrepreneurship in the education sector and connecting social entrepreneurs to venture capitalists and other funders interested in improving education, the Milken-Penn GSE competition arose from the Entrepreneurship in Education Summit held at Penn last year.
After receiving 125 submissions from around the globe, including India, Taiwan and South Korea, 43 independent judges used a rubric developed by Penn’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy to select six finalists. The finalists presented ideas ranging from downloadable mathematics applications, to software for streamlining the hiring process, programs teaching children to become entrepreneurs and a mobile resource center that runs on vegetable oil and brings learning to underserved children.
The second-place prize of $15,000 was awarded to Jen Schnidman, 26, of New Orleans, La., for “Drop the Chalk,” a web-based software that empowers teachers and principals to track and quantify students’ academic growth by providing an overall picture of what students already know—and what they still need to learn.
Following the competition, Penn GSE convened its second annual Entrepreneurship in Education Summit, a meeting of learning-industry leaders, education entrepreneurs and funders seeking to develop prescriptions for better government and K-12 systemic support of education entrepreneurs.
Originally published on June 4, 2010