Educators, app developers invited to 'Reverse Pitch,' win $30,000 grant

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Educators, app developers invited to 'Reverse Pitch,' win $30,000 grant

Sun, 04/15/2018 - 10:16am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Can a new generation of apps be developed – using virtual reality, augmented reality, telepresence and other 21st century technologies – that would engage Vermont students more deeply in their learning? A “reverse-pitch” competition – to be held May 4 at 4 p.m. in the Sullivan Classroom (MedEd 200) of the Larner College of Medicine Medical Education Center at UVM – is designed to answer that question. The event is sponsored by the Burlington non-profit BTV Ignite.

In a traditional business pitch competition, entrepreneurs present their ideas for a new product or service to a panel of judges, who pick winners and award prize money. 

BTV Ignite’s “reverse pitch” turns that process upside down.  

Rather than talking up their ideas, entrepreneurial app developers will do the listening while end-users – educators – speak about the challenges they face in the classroom that new apps taking advantage of high speed networks could help address. They’re then be tasked with devising apps that address the challenges.

App developers and educators from around the state are invited to attend the free event, which will also be live-streamed.

Winners chosen after three-month development process

After the initial May 4 launch, developers will spend a month working up their apps, then return for a more traditional pitch event a month later, where they’ll showcase their prototype ideas.

Five apps will be chosen to go to the next round, with each winning developer receiving a $2,000 grant. In another two months, the developers will come back with more finished ideas. Two final winners will be chosen and awarded a $10,000 grant.  

“The question we want to ask is: How does high bandwidth connectivity help educators re-imagine the concept of education in the 21st century?” said Dennis Moynihan, executive director of BTV Ignite. “The goal is to use technology and fast networks to spur engagement and learning.”

Moynihan is asking that apps be developed in three related spheres:

  • Those that take advantage of Burlington’s high-speed network where bandwidth isn’t an issue.
  • Those that could connect Burlington’s network to other communities in the state, some of which are part of the Vermont’s statewide high-speed network.
  • Those that could connect Vermont students with their counterparts in schools across the country.

Senior Microsoft developers, UVM education faculty on hand for launch event

Senior representatives from Microsoft will keynote the May 2 launch session, sharing insights on how new technologies are creating 21st century opportunities, including in education. John Downes and Kieran Killeen of the UVM Tarrant Institute for Innovation in Education will also be part of the event, along with Lea Ann Smith of the the Essex STEM Academy, Ann DeMarle of Champlain College Emergent Media Center, Michael Stone of the Chattanooga-based Public Education Foundation and Scott Turnbull of US Ignite. . 

BTV Ignite’s event is part of a series of reverse-pitches US Ignite in sponsoring communities across the country designed to spur next gen apps that will promote economic development and community engagement.

Over the past five years, the US Ignite effort has yielded a number of promising apps, including some in education, that take advantage of high speed networks. A gallery of those apps is here

More information on the BTV Ignite reverse pitch is available on the organization’s website.

BTV Ignite is supported by the following local partners: Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Electric Department, Champlain College, The University of Vermont, The University of Vermont Medical Center, Burlington Telecom, Apprenticeship USA at Vermont HiTec, People’s United Bank, Vermont Works, and the City of Burlington. For more information, visit