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The Top 8 XR Education Prize Finalists took the big stage in Los Angeles last week to compete for cash prizes up to $250,000 funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The XR Edu Prize is an innovation competition designed to accelerate the most promising companies operating at the intersection of postsecondary education and virtual, augmented, or mixed reality (collectively, “XR”). XR Edu is part of the broader $1.5 million “Algorithm for Change: AI/ML & XR Access to Education” competition hosted by the NYU Social Entrepreneurship Program and Techstars.

In designing the Challenge, I was especially excited about the potential for XR technologies to improve affordability, accessibility and learning outcomes in higher education. Our Top 8 Finalists pitched a diverse array of XR solutions tackling these issues and more.

New-York based 3D Bear kicked off the competition pitching their augmented reality learning platform for 3D modeling.

Next up was Silicon Valley-based Pat Inc. pitching their joint venture with Singapore-based V-KAIWA for language learners to practice conversation in simulated real world scenes.

Brooklyn-based WondaVR presented an online platform for anyone to create highly immersive learning experiences and share it easily on all platforms.

Followed by Detroit-based Alchemie pitching interactive digital learning tools that fuse commercial game design and data analytics to provide engaging, real-time feedback for students and instructors:

Philadelphia-based Lovoco pitched a live demo of Stenopoly – the first instantaneous bilingual subtitling augmented reality software enabling captions for visual learners, comprehension for global communicators, and higher learning outcomes for students:

Los Angeles-based Embodied Labs presented immersive tools that allow professional and family care partners to embody the perspective of an older adult, and use the insights they learn to transform their organizations and communities.

Santa Monica-based Emblematic Group pitched REACH, a platform that makes it easy to create, distribute and experience volumetric AR/VR/XR, that will revolutionize massive open online courses for post-secondary students of all backgrounds:

Austin-based Interplay Learning presented a VR training solution for “hands-on” vocational careers including electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians.

Judging for the pitch competition was led by four esteemed leaders in XR, venture capital and education: Hamet Watt, Board Partner at Upfront Ventures; Ted Schilowitz, Futurist at Paramount Pictures; Joanna Popper, Global Head of Virtual Reality for Location Based Entertainment at HP; and Troy Williams, Managing Director at University Ventures.

Judges and other leaders in the L.A. tech community had the opportunity to demo the Top 8 technologies during the XR Edu Afterparty.

Without further ado, I am pleased to announce the 3 cash prize winners:

$30,000 – 3rd Place: Emblematic Group

$100,000 – 2nd Place: Interplay Learning

$250,000 – Grand Prize: Embodied Labs

I am incredibly optimistic about the future of higher education with these visionary entrepreneurs at the forefront of innovation. Very special thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their generous financial support; Techstars and the NYU School of Entrepreneurship for co-hosting; University Ventures, Women in XR and Two Bit Circus for your partnership; and Felice Shimmel for your masterful Event Coordination. Last but not least, thank you to everyone in the LA tech community for your participation and support!


Lara Jeremko Lara Jeremko
Lara Jeremko is an Los Angeles-based investor and advisor for startups and venture capital funds. Lara is the Founder and Managing Partner of Beyond Ventures. She is also a Strategic Advisor at Techstars.