Michelson Runway is the world's first accelerator dedicated to supporting innovations in both higher education as well as career training.

The accelerator emerged as a partnership initiative between the Michelson 20MM Foundation and Runway incubator. Ultimately, the goal is to serve as the bridge that connects institutions, innovators, and policymakers solving the most pressing issues in postsecondary and vocational education.

Our guiding star is simple: All students around the world should have access to an affordable, equitable, and high-quality education that leads to a meaningful career.

Learn more about our inaugural 2016 cohort here!


Program Overview


Michelson Runway virtual accelerator program is designed to help edtech entrepreneurs build relationships with institutional decision-makers, perform in-depth research and incorporate results back into the product, and attract follow-on funding through our network of investors and corporate partners.

Our program is conducted online and lasts four months; every company receives a $25,000 equity investment via SAFE (an agreement popularized by Y Combinator). Other features include:

  • Over $400,000 in partnership benefits and perks from services like AWS, Google Cloud, Sendgrid, inDinero, Zipcar, and more;
  • Free legal advisory and support from the program's exclusive legal partner;
  • Up to four months of desk space for three team members at Runway in downtown San Francisco;
  • Product feedback and guidance from best-in-class entrepreneurs, educators, researchers, and other experts;
  • Research partnership for a small-scale study on product usability, feasibility, or promise of learning;
  • Advice on best practices in user testing, accessibility, and designing for academia environment;
  • Access to a virtual entrepreneur community and our web-based presentations on topics like fundraising and monetization.

Best of all, cohort companies will join our invigorating community of 200 startups, with hundreds of entrepreneurs working on their vision of tomorrow.

Photo by KovacsAlex/iStock / Getty Images

Criteria & Timeline


Broadly, we are looking for companies working on programs, products or services that dramatically improve the access and affordability of higher education. At the end of the day, our mission is to provide a considerable and indisputable return on investment to students.





Our criteria for program participation are both social and economic, including the ability of the company:

  • To improve student access, affordability, and success in traditional and alternative higher education systems;

  • To be accessible and usable by a wide range of students–especially underserved student populations;

  • To empower students and lifelong learners;

  • To support strategic workforce development goals;

  • To potentially achieve wide distribution and generate sustainable revenue both domestically and internationally.

Regarding the areas of focus, we are interested in companies that are working on improving education delivery, simplifying access for international students, facilitating competency-based education, creating new models for career training, synchronous learning, STEM programs, training for healthcare professionals, integrating outside content and brands with curricula from leading postsecondary institutions, and more.





March 7, 2016: Application submission opens
April 25, 2016: Applications due
June – October 2016: Accelerator program
October 2016: Demo Day (SF Bay Area)




While the program includes two mandatory in-person covenings, cohort companies are not required to relocate. However, companies that do opt to relocate have the option of receiving up to four months of desk space for three team members.

Our virtual accelerator program lasts approximately four months, with targeted content and feedback delivered via phone/video meetings, web-based presentations, and online collaboration.

Higher education has the capacity to change the world. Innovative ideas and the great teams behind them can make this crucial resource more accessible and impactful.
— Gary K. Michelson // Founder, Michelson 20MM Foundation