New online platform to help fill empty seats in classrooms
Jun 14, 2016
Harvard Student-Led Company Wins Public Sector Award Sponsored by Accenture
BOSTON; June 14, 2016 – A company led by Harvard University students aspires to be “the Airbnb for higher education,” tapping unused capacity – empty seats – in higher education and vocational classrooms. The annual Public Sector Innovation Award, under the auspices of the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard and sponsored by Accenture, is providing $10,000 to help advance the new online platform.
ALEX (Anyone’s Learning Experience) has begun building partnerships with small and medium Boston-area businesses that offer tuition assistance and have employees without college degrees. The objective of the platform is to match need with excess capacity in classrooms – connecting employers and individual employees with classrooms that are not full. ALEX earns revenue through a per-class fee, with the bulk of payments going to participating educational institutions. Participating employers can subsidize classes for their employees as a means of reducing internal training costs and improving employee development, productivity and retention. The current focus on Boston will be followed by New York City and then rolled out to other cities.
“Many people are struggling to improve their education, companies need better trained employees, and every year there are about two million unfilled U.S. classroom seats – there is huge need and potential for the platform we’ve created,” said Sergio Marrero, CEO of ALEX and currently attending Harvard’s Business School and Kennedy School of Government. “Connecting working professionals without college training with available seats in classrooms is an effective and cost-efficient way to help business thrive while improving the lives of millions of people.”
The Public Sector Innovation Award, sponsored by Accenture and under the auspices of the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, encourages Harvard University students to apply their creative energy to help solve pressing public sector challenges while fostering a new generation of government leaders. Participating students gain the opportunity to engage with government officials to identify problems, challenges and opportunities; create a project proposal for a product or service that addresses the challenge; and the award winner gets funding to help develop their initiative to create public value.
“We are proud to sponsor this important award, which supports innovation critical to solving our toughest issues and opening up opportunities,” said Julie Sweet, Accenture’s group chief executive – North America. “ALEX is a great example of the power innovation has to create economic opportunity.”
Pallavi Verma, senior managing director of Accenture’s public sector practice in North America added:
“ALEX is a creative and commendable effort to make college training more accessible, help businesses address talent and skill gaps, and help educational institutions capture what is essentially lost revenue. It could have a big positive impact on employees, businesses and schools, as all benefit from the improved access to education that this platform offers.”