Innovate NYC Schools

Building edtech bridges between educators and startups


Innovate NYC Schools is building a robust edtech ecosystem that enables smarter technology solutions for schools by fostering better relationships between the tech industry and educators, students, and parents.

Our work improves the exchange of information between educators, who understand authentic needs within school communities, and those who design and fund the development of new solutions to meet those need.

We think the best edtech tools are created when startups partner with educators.



#SharkTankEdu is a low-barrier event where edtech developers and education stakeholders like teachers, principals, students, and parents can test product assumptions and validate whether the products meet authentic school needs. This structure provides educators with dedicated time and a safe space to critically evaluate technology tools amongst a group of like-minded peers.

During #SharkTankEDU events, developers demo their products as teams of “sharks” listen, ask questions and provide feedback. Participants are empowered to compare and contract features, discuss user flows, and share ideas about effectively utilizing technology for education.

How to Participate

We select and match developers and teacher sharks based on their areas of interest. If you’re interested in participating, email us at


If you haven’t seen the show, Shark Tank – we’ve adapted the show’s model to help startups build better products for education. The event format is 3 startups demo their edtech product in front of 7 principal-sharks. The sharks then have 20 minutes for Q&A with the product developer.

Startups: this is a great opportunity to learn about principal stakeholders as your end-user.

Educators: this is a great opportunity to learn about new and upcoming edtech products and provide feedback to developers before these products reach your school communities.

Run Your Own #SharkTankEDU

Bring #SharkTankEDU to your school community! Check out our starter guide for tips to get started:

Short-Cycle Evaluation Challenge


Today’s procurement landscape has shifted dramatically and decisions about what products are used in the classroom are far more complex; educators may have access to hundreds of software products and licenses are typically renewed every year. School leaders need better information to decide what edtech products will be effective in such a massive marketplace.

Building on what we’ve learned from the Gap App Challenge, iZone launched the Short-Cycle Evaluation Challenge (SCEC)—a call for cutting-edge personalized learning programs and innovative teachers to evaluate who edtech products works for, when, and under what circumstances. SCEC matches school teacher teams with edtech companies to pilot new products that address the needs of their students. Educators gain news skills implementing technology and assessing what works in their classroom, and have the opportunity to shape edtech tools that solve real classroom needs.

Through SCEC, iZone is developing a new process for edtech piloting that is less intensive than Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) and more robust than product reviews. This new short-cycle process provides more timely information to educators and school leaders so they can make more informed decisions about implementing technology tools that support student achievement. Sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, SCEC is one of three national test-beds to design short-cycle edtech pilots.

Questions? Email


During the 2014-15 school year, iZone matched 40 NYC educators with 10 edtech product to address needs including data and visualizations on student progress in core subjects, Common-Core aligned content, and online formative assessments. Check out the videos below to hear more about their experience.

Elevating educator voice in the development of edtech products from iZone on Vimeo.