It has now been three weeks since we launched the Open Education Challenge, and the applications have been rolling in. We've received 48 applications, 35 of which are in draft form. That's not bad, considering that we are still weeks away from the actual deadline and creative geniuses tend to procrastinate.
The goal of the challenge is to transform the field of education in Europe and beyond. Can we do it? Let's take a look at the characteristics of the applications we've gotten so far, starting with where they're from.
Location of the applicants
By far the majority of applications have come from Europe, which isn't surprising since the Challenge is under the patronage of European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou as well as being part of Startup Europe. That, and the winners will take part in the European Incubator for Innovation in Education which takes place in five successive cities in Europe. So yes, there are some good reasons to have so many applications from Europe. Nonetheless, anyone from anywhere in the world can apply, so come on Australia and New Zealand let's see some action!
Stage of Development
About a quarter of the applications are still in the Idea stage, that is, they've identified a potential solution to a need/problem in the education market, but they haven't researched the solution or validated that it meets the need. Three applicants are at the research and validation stage, and four have started developing their product or service. Then BAM! 11 applicants who already have a prototype! That means that they have some kind of working version of their solution that is ready to be pilot tested with users. Eight of the applicants already have their product or service on the market, meaning that they've got paying customers. This is close to the cut-off point for the Challenge; as you might have seen in our Terms and Conditions, once a company has surpassed the break-even point, they are outside the scope of our incubator.
Reliance on digital technology
Most of the submissions are centred on the use of digital technologies. Yet the Challenge isn't limited to technological innovations. We're looking for projects that demonstrate innovation in education, and that could also involve new uses of existing technology or other inventive approaches to teaching or learning. The field is wide open here, folks.
So who is going to benefit from all of these innovations? Many of the applications targeted more than one level of education, but so far primary education is the most popular target for the startup proposals we've received. The numbers go down as the level of education goes up, with only five applications in the field of lifelong education (which includes corporate training, adult learning, ongoing education, etc.).
T-minus 33 days to deadline
There are still three weeks left in the submission phase, and we look forward to receiving many more applications and seeing the drafts get finalized. If you're thinking of applying, don't leave it to the last minute! We have received many high quality submissions already and an application thrown together the night before the deadline is NOT going to make the cut. Check out our previous blog post with 8 tips for writing your application, and stay tuned for our upcoming blog post on how to make an impact with your 30-second video.