Pictured above: Stephen Bonney, Account Manager at AWS ; Joe Fernandez, founder of ALPACA; and Linda Waters, Head of Business Development at Learnovate, at the EdTech Accelerator Pitch Day in Dublin.

ALPACA has been announced as the overall winner of the new EdTech Accelerator Programme from The Learnovate Centre in Trinity College Dublin and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The EdTech Accelerator Programme for learning technology start-ups ran from 5th December 2023 to 20th February 2024 and ten companies were selected to take part.

Its aim was to provide start-ups with mentoring by leading experts in business and product development, as well as significant AWS cloud computing credits. Companies selected had to have identified a learning problem or need and were working on a digital solution.

All participants presented their solutions at the final ‘Demo Day’ showcase, which was held on 20th February in the AWS offices in Dublin, where the winner, ALPACA chosen by Learnovate, AWS and industry judges — was announced.

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Judges Rory Barrins, AWS; Weili Wang, Atlantic Bridge; Nessa McEniff, Learnovate; Ciara Ni Fhloinn, SOLAS; and Piero Tintori, Terminalfour, at the EdTech Accelerator Pitch Day in Dublin.

ALPACA creates evidence-based games that help teachers and parents identify children who may struggle to read, before they can read print. They will receive $100,000 USD of AWS credits as the overall winner.

All participants received credits worth $2,000 USD for AWS cloud computing services across a range of areas, including compute power, database storage, content delivery, and other functionality. They also received eight full-day workshops led by experts in learning, business, and technology at AWS offices in Dublin, as well as free access to certified AWS training.

The EdTech Accelerator Programme is a collaboration between Learnovate, a leading global future of work and learning research hub in Trinity College Dublin, and AWS. Learnovate is part of the Technology Centre programme, supported by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.

AWS is a Patron Member of Learnovate, joining a global community of leaders in learning and technology who are driving innovation in learning and education. The Accelerator Programme was open to early-stage start-ups who are developing digital solutions to problems related to learning and want to accelerate growth and scale operations.

The programme aims to provide business mentoring, technical guidance on building and scaling in the cloud, as well as regulatory, data privacy and cybersecurity considerations. Specialist expertise will also be available on topics such as pilot studies, trials, pathways to market, public procurement, and investor readiness.

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Participants at the EdTech Accelerator Pitch Day in Dublin. The new EdTech Accelerator was organised by The Learnovate Centre in Trinity College Dublin, in partnership with AWS.

Nessa McEniff, Director at Learnovate, said: "We are thrilled to announce ALPACA as the winner of our first ever EdTech Accelerator programme organised in partnership with AWS. All the companies accepted onto the programme were stellar start-ups with innovative and impactful ideas in learning. With this Accelerator, Learnovate continues to provide expertise and support to the growing and vibrant community of EdTech start-ups in Ireland.”

Joe Fernandez, founder of ALPACA, said: “We are grateful for the support of hundreds of primary schools who have trusted ALPACA to screen over 8,000 infants’ early literacy skills this school year. It shows the power of early identification and timely intervention by teachers. Winning the EdTech Accelerator validates that the AI solutions we are building resonated with the EdTech experts on the judging panel.”

Stephen Bonney, Account Manager at AWS, said: "Every EdTech founder starts out with a problem to solve – the EdTech Accelerator has been designed to help ten of the brightest in Ireland to develop their solutions. AWS has a history of innovation and bringing disruptive solutions to the market. If we can share our culture of innovation and help these founders solve the problems they identified, I really believe we can have an impact on the Irish EdTech community.”