presented by: Cogna
and Walton Family Foundation


Launch celebrates emerging innovations in learning with a fast-paced pitch competition featuring early-stage startups during SXSW EDU.


Photo by Holly Jee.

Photo by Holly Jee.

2019 Media - EdSurge

The annual tradition dates back to 2012, and features early-stage companies showing off the latest efforts to solve intractable problems across the education landscape.


2019 Launch Finalists - Nick Ducoff, Edmit

We were excited to participate at SXSW EDU because of the collaborative environment for education innovation. Attendees and others participating in the conference really want to surface and support the best products and services to help students succeed.

Nick Ducoff
2019 Launch Winner / Edmit

2017 Media - The

Few arenas spotlight, critique, or celebrate the newest edtech efforts quite like the South by Southwest Education Conference & Festival. At the center of it all: the live, rapid-fire Launch Competition, which gives new edtech innovators a stage, and platform, to make their best pitch.


About Launch


Launch showcases emerging innovations and breakthrough technologies making an impact on the future of teaching and learning. The competition provides a platform for early-stage startups seeking feedback, investment, strategic partnerships, and exposure.

Selected finalists will present their product or service in the fast-paced, live pitch event before a panel of industry experts, early adopters, investors, and educators, as well as SXSW EDU attendees, March 9-12, 2020.

Additionally, finalists and attendees will have ample opportunities to connect through spotlights, socials, and other events during SXSW EDU.

Application Process

Early-stage education startups are encouraged to complete the online application process to be considered as a finalist for the 2020 competition.

Monday, July 1 – Application Opens
Friday, November 1 – Application Closes

Eligibility Requirements

  • The SXSW EDU Launch competition is open to early-stage startup companies in the education market.
  • Companies must be incorporated with a management team and public-facing website, able to convey a sustainable business model and able to demonstrate user traction, engagement, and adoption metrics.
  • Companies who have raised over $5 million in funds from combined funding sources at the time of application are ineligible.
  • Each applicant is only eligible to present in one of the SXSW family of startup events (SXSW Pitch, SXSW Release It, or SXSW EDU Launch). In contrast, if you have applied for one of these events and were not accepted to participate, then please feel free to apply to SXSW EDU Launch.

Complete an Application

Launch and Learn by Design competition application steps infographic.

  • Sign in or create an account in the SXSW cart, then select “SXSW EDU Launch Competition” to begin the application process.
  • Once you begin the application, you can save and continue your work as you go.
  • Take some time to review your application, no changes can be made once it has been submitted.
  • Please note that there is a $200 fee associated with the application, but you will not be asked to commit to purchasing until you have completed the application and are ready to submit.

Frequently Asked Questions

For frequently asked questions and answers, check out the Launch FAQ.

Emcees, Judges, & Coaches

Cherry Thompson, Regional Director of Teaching Channel

Cherry Thompson

Regional Director

Teaching Channel

Jack McCauley, Co-Founder of Oculus

Jack McCauley



Jeff Young, Senior Editor of EdSurge

Jeff Young

Senior Editor


Nancy Lue, Co-Founder & COO of Advanced Education R&D Fund

Nancy Lue

Co-Founder & COO

Advanced Education R&D Fund

Amy Looper

Chief Operations Officer

OneSeventeen Medica, PBC

Stephanie Cerda

School Administrator, Edcamp Organizer

KIPP Texas, Edcamp Austin



Cognitive ToyBox
Cognitive ToyBox
Brooklyn, NY

Cognitive ToyBox is a research-backed technology platform for school readiness. It offers a hybrid observation and game-based approach that makes assessment better and simpler for early childhood educators. Administrators and teachers can then leverage the data to effectively allocate resources and plan instruction, with the goal of optimizing student learning.

Provo, UT

Kiri is the world’s first smart wooden block that helps kids learn language, STEM, and an expanding library of subjects, all without a screen. Using light, sounds, and haptics – together with its optional AI-powered app – Kiri creates a highly-personalized experience for children of all abilities, including those with special needs.

New York, NY

Learnabi is brining personalized learning to students across the US. We are developing a learning app that provides high-risk, chronically absent students with adaptive academic support online. We provide customized content to students with significant credit and learning gaps to help them graduate on time.

New York, NY

Presentr is an AI-driven learning platform that helps people improve their speaking skills to become confident and effective speakers.

School Day Wellbeing
School Day Wellbeing
Helsinki, Finland

School Day is a unique, AI-backed solution designed to amplify student voice in K-12 education to support social and emotional learning and help schools remove all barriers from learning. We empower education with real-time wellbeing data and bring kindness into learning.


Google Cloud provides EdTech startups with the same tools and infrastructure used to build Google. Whether it’s scaling your app or building an AI-enabled academic advisor, Google Cloud is here to help solve your biggest problems. Share your product or service with millions of students and faculty around the world by integrating with Google for Education tools. Winner of the launch competition will receive $20,000 Google Cloud credits, and all finalists will receive $5,000 credits. Learn more about Google Cloud and Google for Education partner programs.

Get Involved

Join Us for SXSW EDU 2020

Register to attend the 2020 SXSW EDU Conference & Festival for four days of learning, inspiration, and discovery!


Launch History

Learn more about the history of the Launch competition and browse a full list of past startup finalists, winners, and judges.

Learn More

More Competitions

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