Leaders, entrepreneurs gather to discuss future of education

Each year thought leaders and entrepreneurs from around the nation gather at Arizona State University to discuss the future of education.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and more than 25 other sponsors, the Education Innovation Summit 2012, hosted by ASU and GSV ADvisors, and set to take place April 16-18, will feature more than 100 presentations and 18 expert panels from leading companies, all discussing the latest trends in higher education and K-12 educational technology.

Attendees also will get the chance to hear keynote addresses from ASU President Michael Crow; Jeb Bush, founder and chairman of the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education; Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix and Michael Milken, chairman of the Milken Institute. 

The summit brings together more than 700 of the brightest minds in software technology, gaming, infrastructure, language technology, and for-profit and nonprofit schools. Participants plan to discuss pressing topics, such as adaptive learning, the evolution of course engagement and the future of innovation in the K-12 sector, as well as take advantage of many networking opportunities.

“My first engagement with ASU was two years ago at the first summit,” said Gunnar Counselman, CEO and founder of Fidelis Inc. “The conference focused on how we can really do something different in education. It was also a great place for companies to network – not just a meet-and-greet for customers. Even after the conference, innovative things were happening from the connections made there. I was blown away because there had never been something like that.”

Only in its third year, the summit has quickly positioned ASU as a leader in educational technology by increasing national visibility and awareness among industry experts. It also has added to Arizona’s burgeoning reputation as a focal point for growth among entrepreneurs, as the summit has helped bring additional revenue and growth to the Valley.

“Startup companies and investors are now considering coming to Arizona when perhaps they would not have before,” said Julia Rosen, associate vice provost of ASU Online. “This, in turn, helps the local economy by providing more jobs and new partnerships in addition to the partnerships that ASU and ASU Online have built because of this summit.”

Arizona’s close proximity to the California market also has positioned ASU as an attractive business partner. Extended partnerships with the New York market are a direct result of the conferences’ national reach and word-of-mouth success.

“Being so close to Silicon Valley is a tremendous help to us in terms of proximity between ASU and our partners, and with the investment community,” said Phil Regier, dean of ASU Online. “We have also been fortunate enough to host a lot of people from the New York area who have been integral in growing our conference among other companies from that area.”

The Education Innovation Summit is becoming widely known throughout the education technology sector. In the same way companies eagerly await the Consumer Electronic Show and the MacWorld conference to make groundbreaking announcements, several companies have selected ASU’s annual conference to announce new product launches.

“The conference is a great chance for entrepreneurs to run ideas past ASU,” said Jose Ferreira, founder and CEO of Knewton. “They are listening, and want to give you feedback on your product. For an early technology company, that information is invaluable.”

From startups to well-established companies, the conference offers a unique experience for investors, entrepreneurs and educators alike to learn more, swap ideas and create a better education system for future generations.

To learn more about the summit, visit http://edinnovation.asu.edu/.