Runway Incubator and the Michelson 20MM Foundation jointly announce call for applications for inaugural Michelson Runway Accelerator Summer 2016 cohort supporting and investing in higher education technology startups.
Los Angeles and San Francisco, California (March 7, 2016)

The Michelson 20MM Foundation and Runway Incubator have launched the Michelson Runway Accelerator for pre-seed and seed stage startups with potential to radically improve higher education, adult education, and career training.

“We’re committed to pushing the boundaries of catalytic philanthropy to improve higher education in truly scalable and sustainable ways,” said Dr. Gary K. Michelson, prolific inventor and founder of Michelson 20MM. “We believe for-profit companies can be the key to changing the landscape of higher education, and we will be providing patient and intelligent capital to companies with the potential to move the needle on access, affordability, equity, and efficacy.”

Set to begin June 2016, the four-month accelerator is designed to support innovative entrepreneurs with student-centric learning tools and new educational models by helping them to refine their products and build relationships with institutional decision-makers. Early partners include the California State University Chancellor’s Office, San Francisco State University, De Anza Community College District, and Brandman University.

“By providing a platform for entrepreneurs, technologists, and educational leaders to co-create, Michelson Runway is helping us invent a positive future for post-secondary learning,” said Michael Berman, early partner and Chief Information Officer of California State University, Channel Islands.

Runway Michelson will provide its first cohort of 5 companies with direct investment, office space, legal and financial services, mentorship, and most importantly, proof of concept pilot programs with established college and university partners. Participants will receive a minimum $25,000 seed equity investment via a SAFE (an agreement popularized by Y Combinator) and over $400,000 in in-kind discounts and services from AWS, Google Cloud, Sendgrid, inDinero, Apple, Skyrocket Digital, and more.

Although the companies may participate virtually, participants have the option to occupy up to three desks within Runway’s space (in Twitter’s downtown San Francisco headquarters), an incubator that has been home to 200 current and alumni startups, including Treehouse and Skycatch.

“Runway’s expertise in providing innovation services to major companies will play a central role in mobilizing a network of key stakeholders in the higher education equation to rethink how we prepare college-age and adult learners for a rapidly changing world,” said Joe Vasquez, Michelson Runway co-founder and early co-founder of StartX, Stanford’s premiere startup accelerator. “We’ve been working hard to understand the ecosystem through extensive research and interviews and we’re excited to be supporting entrepreneurs building cutting-edge and impactful technologies.”

In the vein of community, the Michelson Runway accelerator has built a network of over fifty of the most impactful mentors and advisors including Rahim Rajan (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Karen Cator (Digital Promise), Ryan Craig (University Ventures), Gary Brahm (Brandman University), and Charles Thornburgh (Civitas Learning) to name a few.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until April 25th. To learn more about the Michelson Runway Accelerator visit:


About the Michelson 20MM Foundation. Founded by Dr. Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM supports non-profit initiatives, for-profit start-ups, and policy thought leaders that utilize leading edge  digital technologies to create a “higher education 3.0” system that can sustainably increase access, affordability, and student success.

About Runway Incubator. Runway is an incubator, home to nearly 85 startups, located in a 30,000 square feet of space, on the fourth floor of the Twitter building, in downtown San Francisco. Leveraging over a dozen partnerships with Fortune 2000 brands and its international network of cutting-edge innovators, Runway is launching a series of funds, accelerators, and events to support education, finance, IoT/robotics, and AI entrepreneurs.
Joe Vasquez, Program Director