Universities have long served as incubators for promising ideas, and even as investors for some that turn into companies. And one of the biggest online universities in the U.S. is doubling down on digital educational tools with not one—but two—investment funds earmarked specifically for education technology startups.
Since 2018, Western Governors University has committed more than $30 million to two edtech investment funds. For early-stage startups, there is WGU Labs’ Impact Fund, which provides seed capital along with research, product and business development support. The other, NewU Venture Partners, invests in established companies that have more traction and revenue.
It’s unusual for a university to start multiple funds focused on the same objective. But then again, WGU has staked its operations and reputation on finding unconventional ways to serve nontraditional students. A fully online university, WGU currently enrolls more than 119,000 students, many of whom are working adults in their thirties. The average age is 36.