Open Education Challenge

The Open Education Challenge supports European education startups






Education is no longer a matter reserved for public authorities or free from real life constraints. The world is spending more on education than ever before. Education is the answer to parents’ desire to guarantee a future job for their children and to companies’ needs for more innovation and better skilled employees.
We created the Open Education Challenge as the first fully European incubator for education startups. There is no single innovation model that will work in all the classrooms around Europe. Education is local and global at the same time. Technology enables new learning solutions to work in almost any classroom. But cultural differences remain and characterize the way students learn and teachers teach. The OEC launched a world-wide invitation to education startups and created a comprehensive network of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors. The OEC is now dedicated on the one hand to support a small number of innovative startups that have gone beyong the early stage phase and on the other hand to foest education entrepreneurship in Europe and beyond.
The Open Education Challenge coorganizes the Global EdTech Startup Awards with the israelí edtech incubator Mindcet, and a network of edtech incubators from around the world that aims to recognise the world’s most promising EdTech startups with the potential to offer groundbreaking learning solutions.

Our startups

Upon its launch, the Open Education Challenge received more than 600 applicants from 74 countries interested in joining our incubator. Startups were selected by an international jury chaired by Lord Puttnam and Xavier Prats-Monné then director general of Education and Culture at the European Commission. They experienced a 14 weeks immersion in four European cities: Helsinki, Paris, Berlin and London. Investors have since then committed more than 3 M. euros to some of these startups to speed up their development and are continously working with them. 

Unió by Harness based in London is one of our most successful startups. Centred around shared online individual whiteboards between the teacher and student, Unio By Harness allows teachers to easily identify and focus on parts of the lesson that students find most challenging, intervene and provide one-to-one support to individual students who need it most, ensure students are on the same page as teachers, allow students to access their own version of the lesson material and annotate on it for future. Through an extensive range of pedagogically driven features, Unio By Harness helps teachers boost student engagement, participation and attainment.

Domoscio, based in Paris, is another success story. Domoscio (the House of Knowledge in esperanto) is an adaptive learning solution that links cognitive sciences with adaptive algorithms, acting as a personal assistant for better learning and longer retention.



The Investors

The Open Education Investment Club

The Open Education Challenge is privately funded. The Open Education Investment Club gathers renowned investors and venture capitalists, to support startups' development.

Club Members have already invested more than 3 M. euros and are determined to help finance the development of innovative companies in education. 

Investors are working closely with the startups they invested in on all business-related matters.


OEC Investors

Apply now!

The Open Education Challenge opens up a continuous call for proposal during the year 2016-2017. The startups that will be selected will experience during 14 weeks a unique immersion in European educative realities. Instead of proposing a traditional incubation process located in a single place, the startups will embark in an ambitious tour of European capitals to get acquainted with different realities, meet education practitioners and experts from all fields and all cultures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply?

Everyone is welcome. We encourage applications from entrepreneurs, teachers, students, practitioners or anyone with a passion for education and entrepreneurship and above all a company vision that may transform teaching, learning and training. Your success depends on the quality and cohesion of the team. Before assessing individuals, we first look at the team of founders.

Can I apply to the Open Education Challenge if I have not yet created my company?

Our main focus is on companies that have already gone beyond the early stage of development and can demonstrate first market results. To enter the Incubator and get access to the Investment Club members, your company must be registered in an EU country.

Do I have to comply with specific rules?

Yes. The application form must be submitted in English, and by applying to the Open Education Challenge, you accept its terms and conditions.

Can we apply if our team is not from the European Union?

Yes. We accept applications from all over the world and not only from the EU. All selected applicants will have to commit to participate full time in the incubation process that will take place in the EU. The startups have to be (or will have to be) registered in the European Union.

Will my intellectual property rights be protected?

All applications remain the property of the applicants. It is up to you to take the necessary measures if you feel that your idea requires specific protection. Please be aware that we will evaluate hundreds of submissions, many of which may include similar ideas. We will not sign any non-disclosure agreements during the submission process.

What is the purpose of the seed funding?

You will receive up to €20,000 upon joining the Incubator in return for small stakes in your company (6% on average). This seed funding will cover your costs during the Incubation period, including, for instance, the development of a prototype, testing costs, and travel and accommodation expenses.

What is the option I give to the investors?

It is the following: “If selected for Incubation, I will grant an option to the Open Education Investment Club members to acquire 20% of the startup’s capital at an agreed value depending on the stage of development, as described in the terms and conditions.”

Can I apply if I have received previous funding?

You may. In your application, please indicate the name of the funders and the sum awarded. You should also make sure that this is compatible with our terms and conditions.

What about if I’ve been through another accelerator or incubator?

You may still apply (see above). However, we would not recommend participating in two accelerators/incubators at the same time.

Where do I find further information?

Consult the terms and conditions on this site.

Who we are

We bring you two complementary sets of expertise. On the one hand, we specialize in education, supporting innovators in Europe and beyond. We belong to several networks that continously explore the latest trends in education. On the other hand, we are experienced investors, working hand in hand with the companies we invest in.

P.A.U. G.P.

A privately-owned company based in Barcelona, founded by Pierre-Antoine UllmoPierre-Antoine Ullmo is a major contributor to innovative learning in Europe, co-founder of the Global Edtech Startups Awards, founder of the Open Education Studio portal. Read more about his thoughts on education.

Armat Group

A privately-owned investment company based in Luxembourg and specializing in private equity. Co-founded in 2008 by Edouard Ullmo. Armat Group is determined to help finance the development of innovative companies in education and to create value for the invested companies by working closely with their management.


Our Partners


Our Supporters



Our first jury

Lord Puttnam
Chair of the Atticus Foundation

Lord Puttnam is the chair of the Atticus Education, an online education company based in Ireland. After a successful career in the film industry, he turned efforts to public policy.

Xavier Prats Monné
Deputy Director-General for Education and Culture, EC

Xavier is responsible for EU policies and programmes for mobility and cooperation in education and training, including the new Erasmus+ Programme.

Pierre-Antoine Ullmo
Founder of P.A.U. Education

Pierre-Antoine is in charge of overall strategy at P.A.U. Education. He is a specialist in innovative learning and social development with a background in economics and publishing.

Edouard Ullmo
Founder of Armat Group

Edouard heads a private equity firm, Armat Group. Previously, he worked in the aeronautics field, holding senior positions with companies such as Matra, Eurocopter and Airbus. 

Teemu Leinonen
Professor of New Media Design and Learning

Teemu is a professor at Aalto University. He has over a decade of R&D experience in the field web-based learning and has co-founded two companies.

Jacqueline Fendt
Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Jacqueline is a professor at ESCP Europe and Scientific Director of the school’s Chair of Entrepreneurship. She also founded and chaired Business Angels Schweiz.

Hannes Klöpper
Co-founder of iversity

Hannes is the co-founder of iversity, a Berlin-based startup that makes high quality university-level courses openly available to anyone on the internet. 

René Ricol
Founder and Chairman of Ricol Lasteyrie

René is the Founder and Chairman of Ricol Lasteyrie, a company that offers independent financial expertise and risk management. He recently left the post of General Commissioner for Public Investment. 

Avi Warshavsky
CEO of MindCET

Avi is the CEO of MindCET, which brings together educational and startup culture. He has worked extensively on technology-supported learning, such as “Kotar,” a digital textbook platform. 

Magdalene Rosenmöller
Professor at IESE’s Operations Management Department

Magdalene is a Professor at the IESE Business School Operations Management Department. She is an internationally recognized expert and researcher in health management and policy. She has worked with the European Commission, the World Bank, and various universities worldwide.

Olivier Bréchard
Co-founder of the Institute of Action Research for Education

Olivier is the co-founder of the Institute of Action Research for Education (IRAE, in French), which supports innovators in education through strategic advice, action research, and pilot projects. Prior, he was the Executive Director of the World Innovation Summit for Education.

Laurent Zmiro
R2 Investment Club

Laurent is part of a joint venture of the Rothschild Investment Trust and the Edmond de Rothschild Group, where he set up an investment club in 2012. His career includes positions at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. He also co-founded an independent financial boutique and a members-only art trading platform.

François Marmion
General Manager and Investment Director of Helios Capital

François is the Investment Director in charge of Private Equity of Helios Capital. He previously spent several years at the executive level of small high-tech companies, and over a decade in management consulting with Ernst & Young.

Our first mentors

Carolina Jeux CEO of TLS - Telefonica Learning Services
Alain Assouline President of interactive communicactions agency Les Argonautes
Andrew Manches Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and Founder of Plingtoys
Shuli Gilutz Children's Technology Researcher
Solange Chavel Founding partner of SIRIS Academic
Maja Pivec Professor of Game-based Learning and Learning with Multimedia
Chirdeep Singh Chhabra Entrepreneur and technologist in systems, web and mobile technologies
Stefan Dietze Research Group Leader at the L3S Research Center
Alek Tarkowski Director of Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt: Polska
Caroline Bergaud Start-up Advisor at Mutual Benefits
Santtu Toivonen Development Manager at Sanoma Pro
Pasi Sahlberg Visiting Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of Finnish Lessons
François Marmion General Manager at Helios Capital Ltd
Christian Stracke Expert and Consultant in Education Policy
Steve Warburton Professor of Technology Enhanced Learning
Didier Rappaport CEO and Co-founder of Happn
Stylianos Mystakidis E-learning Manager & Virtual Worlds Expert
Daniel Spikol Assistant Professor at Malmö University; specialist in art, design, and technology
Fadi A. Khalek VP Strategic Partnerships, Pearson Education
William Florance Google's Head of Education in Europe, Middle East, and Africa
Yishay Mor Educational Design Scientist
Tapio Koskinen Head of Infrastructures for Learning and Research
Geoff Stead Senior Director, Mobile Learning at Qualcomm
Jean-Marc Antoni Former Global CFO of Havas Creative Group and Havas Worldwide
Sebastian Stride Founding partner of SIRIS Academic
Katerina Zourou Researcher on technology enhanced language learning
Ollie Gardener Co-founder of NoddlePod
Elmar Husmann ELIG Deputy Secretary General and Senior Consultant to IBM
Marc Durando Executive Director at European Schoolnet
Jean-Paul Gut Founder of Armat Group
Gregorio Panadero Founding Chairman of the Dreamtellers Foundation
Olivier Paulhan Founder and Partner of Paulhan & Associés
Maruja Gutierrez Consultant in education and innovation
Yaacov Hecht Founder of the Democratic Schools and Education Cities
Cecilia Waisman Academic Director at MindCET
Ross Hall Director of International at the Open University
Ursula Esser Professor, Founder of BEB
Bjarne Bruun Jensen Professor and Director of Steno Health Promotion Center
Jim Devine DEVINE Policy | Projects | Innovation
Bogdan Ceobanu Policy Officer at the European Commission, focus on Startup Europe
Hanoch Piven Illustrator, founder of Piven World
Sabine Schumann Deputy Managing Director at P.A.U. Education
Miguel Gallardo Illustrator
Sairica Rose Poet, writer and multilingual storyteller