Futurebound, a US-based “movement of changemakers” seeking to fuel innovation in child development, and solve the issues of developmental vulnerabilities for children starting school has recently announced the projects which will make up the first cohort in its acceleration lab that supports ventures with a focus on solutions for children under the age of 10.
Since launching in June 2019, Futurebound has worked to build an “innovation ecosystem” around early-childhood development in its home city of Denver, Colorado. Director Sarabeth Berk has spent recent months learning the early childhood education and care (ECEC) landscape, engaging with thought leaders in the space and hosting meetups to support early childhood innovators.
As a result of these meetings and developments, the first cohort has been announced, working in partnership with Uncharted, a Denver-based social impact accelerator. Over the next eight months, Uncharted will pair the 18 selected ventures with customised support, including access to pilot sites, investors, mentors, researchers and other partners who can help advance their solutions.
Selected ventures will also receive $30,000 and the opportunity to showcase their solutions at the Futurebound Summit, which will be hosted in Denver in mid November.
Speaking with Colorado Inno Ms Berk said Futurebound received over 125 applications to the program, from all across the country and globe. Because the organisation has a focus on Colorado, preference was given to ventures that were already operating in Colorado or planned to have an impact there.
She highlighted that the selection process targeted ventures which were “at the leading edge” and those which were aggressively pursuing problems which are “really hard to solve”.
Over the eight-month program, Ms Berk said, most of the cohort would be focused on piloting their solutions or connecting with interested investors.
Projects which may have correlation to the Australian ECEC context and which are included in the first round of Futurebound’s Acceleration Lab include:
- Guatemalan-based Afinidata, which combines home visits and artificial intelligence to support caregivers to educate children at home.
- Colorado-based Bitsbox, which teaches children coding through the delivery of app based building projects monthly. The Bitsbox program is already popular in schools, STEM clubs, and libraries.
- Denver-based Boogaloo Beds, smart beds which are designed to improve safety, sleep and sensory regulation for children with autism, cerebral palsy and other special needs.
- BridgeCare, a Seattle based offering which is ‘an AI-powered co-parent’; a workplace benefit app that helps parents find and afford quality care at each stage of their child’s development.
- Bright by Text, a text messaging service helps parents and caregivers make the most of everyday interactions with their children through free tips, games and resources.
- Centervention, from North Carolina, a startup company who provide online games to help children improve their social and emotional skills.
- New York City-based Cognitive ToyBox, a “hybrid observation and game-based assessment platform for school readiness,” which saves teachers time and supports instruction.
- Denver-based Early Wins, who are building a workforce solution to develop the skills of the early childhood workforce while leveraging public policy to improve outcomes for teachers and children.
- Mexican-based Kinedu, which gives parents tools to understand and encourage development
- Manatee, a Denver-based group providing a digital platform that integrates mental health therapy into daily life
- Toronto-based Peekapak, which provides a literacy based social emotional learning platform to support educators and families with stories, lessons and interactive learning games to engage children
- SayKid, a Minneapolis-based group who have developed a platform which uses voice technology in the form of a plush robot to help children learn in a safe, natural and engaging way.
To learn more about Futurebound, please see here. The original coverage of this story may be accessed here.