Houston-based educational startup secures seed funding, advances to next round in prestigious competition
A Houston startup has advanced to the semifinal round of an inaugural competition focused on promoting educational technology for K-12 students.
UpBrainery, an immersive educational technology platform that customizes lessons for students, received $20,000 in seed funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Visionary Interdisciplinary Teams Advancing Learning (VITAL) prize challenge. The $6 million prize challenge is cosponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Schmidt Futures, and the Walton Family Foundation.
“This incredible achievement reflects our commitment to pushing the boundaries of knowledge and technology,” UpBrainery states in a LinkedIn announcement.
In addition to the seed money, UpBrainery will be partnered with a mentor to help them improve the logistics of their exploratory learning and AI aided platform, with a focus on developing their minimum viable prototype.
“As we progress to the semifinal round, we remain committed to our mission. This recognition from the NSF further fuels our passion to continue pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to make a positive impact on society,” UpBrainery's LinkedIn post continues.
CEO and team leader Ghazal Qureshi, who was recently nominated for Forbes’ “50 Over 50: Impact” list, founded the career and technical education centered app in 2020. Offering online courses from the basics of culinary skills to sportscode gaming and programming, UpBrainery aims to spark students’ curiosity with the ultimate goal of helping them uncover their future career paths. Last year, Qureshi was named to Entrepreneur Magazine's 2022 Women of Influence list.
Upbrainery is among 54 teams that reached the semifinal round of the VITAL prize challenge, successfully emerging from the initial discovery round of which there were 100 teams. One other Texas-based startup moved forward to the semifinals, FabuLingua, an Austin based startup that employs science-based language learning tools in its mobile game for kids.
The final round of the competition will consist of 18 teams, all of which will be eligible for an additional $50,000 in seed funding. Three first place winning teams of the final round will each receive another $250,000 in seed funding.
Upbrainery recently joined a Houston-based accelerator, Softeq Ventures, earlier this year.
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