WIVA students research an Edtech startup helping children with learning challenges and direct it to a fundraising platform

After rigorous research, the student team at Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA) is excited to suggest BrainLeap Technologies, an education technology startup, to the crowdfunding platform Netcapital in order for it to potentially receive funding from investors.

 

brainleap-technologies-logoAccording to research at Oregon State, children who had stronger attention skills at age 4 were 50% more likely to complete college by age 25. Children with weak attention skills have disadvantages in their ability to read, to learn, and to fit in with their classmates[1]. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. Alarmingly, rates of ADHD diagnoses in the U.S. have been rising over the past 20 years, and today, nearly 1 in 10 children is diagnosed with ADHD[2].

BrainLeap Technologies is a research-backed startup that has been built on over 50 years of experience from leading neuroscientists. BrainLeap has developed gaze-driven video games that train the attention skills that are important for reading and executive functioning. The video games are controlled entirely with eye movement via an eye tracker and are designed to drive child engagement and fun. The games leverage the shared neural circuitry of the eye movement system and the attention system to train fast shifts of attention, inhibitory control, fixation of gaze, and anticipatory focus.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the games were initially created and tested at UC San Diego. Further R&D funding was provided by the National Science Foundation after BrainLeap was launched. By training the underlying skills that support attention, BrainLeap has created a product with positive research results across multiple indicators of attention. These results have been achieved with as little as 20 minutes of play per day over an 8–12-week period.

Co-founder Jeff Coleman says, “BrainLeap’s mission is to empower one million children per year to train foundational attention skills through fun and engaging video games. Strengthening foundational attention skills can change the trajectory of a child’s life.”

Wharton MBA student and WIVA Associate David Cao (WG’23) connected with Coleman, also a Wharton alum, earlier in the year and was impressed by the company’s potential for positive impact. “Some of my closest relatives have attention deficit difficulties, and so when I came across BrainLeap’s innovative and research-backed solution, I immediately saw immense opportunity,” Cao said. “This could be a scalable solution that helps millions of children improve the attention skills they need to do well in school and in life.”

Working closely with Wharton Social Impact Initiative staff, WIVA students conduct research based on rigorous investment and impact criteria. Students analyze deal fundamentals, review market trends, and establish the scope and scale of impact.

“Gamification is a trend that we have seen clearly and persistently across the Edtech sector, and our students’ analyses shows its significant potential to improve learning outcomes,” said Vaibhav Gowda, Impact Program Associate at the Wharton Social Impact Initiative. Vaibhav helps to manage the WIVA program.

 


[1] Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html

[2] Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html

 

DISCLAIMER:

Neither the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School, Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA), nor any of their respective students, faculty, directors, officers, employees, representatives, affiliates, or agents (collectively, the “Penn Parties”) (i) is acting as underwriter, broker-dealer, promoter, financial advisor, or other intermediary with respect to any offering of securities by any entity mentioned in this article, or (ii) has received or will receive any compensation from any person or entity as an incentive to publish of this article.  In addition, the Penn Parties have not received and will not receive any compensation or other item of value in connection with any possible or future investment in any securities issued by any entity mentioned herein.

Any research or diligence described above (i) was performed by WIVA solely for its own, limited, educational purposes, and not for the purpose of aiding any person in making any investment decision, and (ii) may be limited and incomplete, by its very nature, as a result of limited publicly available information and other limited information voluntarily made available to WIVA.  No Penn Party shall have any liability whatsoever arising from any error or incompleteness of fact or opinion in, or lack of care in the preparation or publication of, this article.

Copyright ©2022 the Wharton School.  All rights reserved.  The information, methodologies, data and opinions contained or reflected herein are proprietary of the Wharton School and/or its students, are intended for non-commercial use, and may not be copied, distributed or used in any way, including via citation, unless otherwise explicitly agreed in writing.  They are provided for informational purposes only and (1) do not constitute investment or financial advice; (2) cannot be interpreted as an offer, indication, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any securities or to undertake any kind of business transactions; (3) do not represent an assessment of any issuer’s economic performance, financial obligations nor of its creditworthiness; and (4) are not a substitute for a professional financial, legal, and tax advice.