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Penn GSE, Milken Competition to Focus on Entrepreneurship in Education

Graduate business schools often hold competitions to nurture the development of innovative business plans. But when was the last time you heard about a business-plan competition geared entirely to educational entrepreneurship? Probably never—at least not until now.

A blog post on Eduwonk alerted us yesterday to this upcoming competition being sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education and the Milken Family Foundation. The first annual Milken-PennGSE education business-plan competition will award one prize of $25,0000 and another of $15,000 for the best business plans aimed at addressing educational problems that crop up at any point from cradle to grave. The winning plans will be required to outline the problem, its proposed solution, and possibilities for scaling up their innovations.

A description of the competition posted on the graduate school's Web site yesterday notes that:

"Despite the size and import of learning, we have immense challenges; many hold out the hope of entrepreneurship to help solve some of these challenges. That said, until now there hasn't been a single education business plan competition in the world and while entrepreneurship in bio tech, software, engineering and medicine is quite robust with clusters of start ups surrounding some of the world's great universities, nothing similar exists in education.

Doug Lynch, the school's vice dean, said the competition grew out of an invitation-only meeting the university held over the summer to brainstorm for ways to promote more innovation in education. The 13 judges, who include a wide range of corporate CEOs and foundation officers, include many of the participants from that event. (Eduwonk is one, too.) Submissions can describe either nonprofit or for-profit ventures and competitors have until Jan. 15 to signal their intent to participate. Winners will be announced in May.

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