Michigan educational innovation contest launched

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$20,000+ and business startup support offered to top three winners

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan residents are encouraged to submit their ideas for improving teaching and learning in a new Michigan EdTech Innovation Pitch Contest & Bootcamp. Through a partnership between Michigan State’s Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Spartan Innovations, a subsidiary of MSU Foundation, and Michigan Virtual,  $20,000 in business startup grants and additional startup assistance is available for contest winners.

“We have the resources and expertise to help Michigan teachers bring their ideas to fruition,” said Paul Jaques, Managing Director of Venture Creation with the MSU Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “Our hope through this contest is to support innovative and entrepreneurial ideas that can be brought back to the classroom to advance learning and teaching through the use of existing or new technology.”

To enter the contest, Michigan educators and innovators must submit a written pitch between April 4 and May 13, 2022. Finalists will be notified by May 25 and advance to a final pitch presentation on June 22 where first, second, and third place winners will be chosen. 

“Today’s modern education system faces its own set of challenges. We know that those in the classroom setting are the best at identifying problems and finding solutions to help overcome barriers,” said Frank Urban, Director of Venture Creation – Life Sciences with Spartan Innovations. “We have seen the EdTech sector trending positively and we have supported several startups in that space over the last few years. The Michigan EdTech Innovation Pitch Contest is designed to help us think big and provide support for the next big ideas to make learning more effective and supportive for all.”

The first-place winner will receive $10,000 in business startup grant funding, plus branding and logo design support, and legal consultation. The second-place winner will receive $6,000 in business startup grant funding, plus logo design support and legal consultation. The third-place winner will receive $4,000 in business startup grant funding, plus logo design support and legal consultation. 

Branding and legal support is being donated by Michigan Creative and Foster Swift. All monetary prizes will be made available in the form of grants from Michigan Virtual to the winners. Winners who are not yet formed as companies are still eligible to receive the monetary prize provided they form and register a legal business entity within three months of winning. Entity formation assistance can be provided.  

“Michigan schools have an opportunity to benefit from anyone who has ever thought, ‘I wish there was an app for that’ in an educational setting,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, President and CEO at Michigan Virtual. “Education is rapidly evolving and this program is an opportunity for us to inspire those in and around education to develop and pursue innovative ideas that will improve teaching and learning for years to come.”

In addition to the grant funding for the top three winners, anyone who submits a written pitch proposal is eligible to attend a Bootcamp the week of July 18. The Bootcamp, which is provided at no cost to all pitch contest participants, is designed to help participants further explore and develop a business model around their idea while also introducing them to resources and supports that are available to entrepreneurs and innovators in Michigan.

The contest is open to any Michigan resident 18 and older who has clear ties to the state’s education ecosystem. This may include but isn’t limited to: 

  • PreK-12 teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, counselors, school personnel,
  • Parents of PreK-12 school-aged children,
  • Students of any major attending a college or university in Michigan,
  • Faculty and staff from teacher prep programs at Michigan colleges and universities,
  • Staff from organizations that serve or support Michigan’s PreK-12 system. 

Michigan educators can earn 25 SCECH credits by participating in both the written pitch submission and the Bootcamp experience and reflecting on how the presented elements of innovation and entrepreneurship can be applied to improving both learning and teaching. 

To learn more about the contest and submit an entry,  visit michiganvirtual.org/pitch.


About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual™ (formally known as Michigan Virtual University®) provides online courses for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute®. As a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience, Michigan Virtual is Michigan’s leading voice in online education. Visit us at michiganvirtual.org.


Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.