Wentworth Univeristy’s Accelerate made the list of finalists.

Boston, with its high concentration of top-tier colleges and universities, has the education sector covered. We know this. But as cutthroat as the competition may be, we still had to determine who should be considered a step above the rest. Take a gander at our 2015 finalists for 50 on Fire in Education:

Accelerate, Wentworth Institute of Technology

  • Since its launch in 2012, Accelerate has had more than 3,000 Wentworth students participate in its interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial activities, such as the Startup Challenge, Social Innovation Lab and One-Day Adventures.
  • This year, Accelerate hosted a 3-week boot camp called City Start Boston, allowing students, local leaders and members of the community to come together and work on innovation in the civic sector.


  • This educational content company puts together insightful and engaging online materials for students, so it’s no surprise Boundless’ site has about 5 million unique visitors each month.
  • Boundless had raised nearly $10 million from VCs prior to its acquisition this year by Valore—a major online textbook marketplace. It also became an Alliance Level Partner with Canvas, which provides a leading Learning Management System.


  • Enabling students to find internships, jobs and alumni mentors – while giving colleges data on engagement, career outcomes and trends – CampusTap has been getting legs with its private, social networks for school communities.
  • Last winter, the startup raised $500,000 in seed funding and it gained its first clients – MIT and Wheaton College – through MassChallenge.

Cengage Learning

  • This edtech company pulled itself out of bankruptcy a few years ago. By broadening its textbook offerings to include online learning and teaching tools, it’s become highly profitable and it even acquired Learning Objects earlier this year.
  • Cengage has been receiving much industry recognition for its impressive turnaround, being name a finalist for nine SIIA CODiE Awards and making the 2015 Indeagen Impact 100 List.


  • With its appealing mobile solutions, which give educational institution insight into social media, this company reports that it has witnessed more than 100% growth in revenue in the last year.
  •  EverTrue has successfully raised $14 million in fundraising, the bulk of which came in October when it secured $8 million.

FlyWire (formerly peerTransfer)

  • FlyWire, which changed its name from peerTransfer this year to rebrand, made literal moves this fall when it migrated to a bigger, swanky Boston office to accommodate its recent growth.
  • This startup enables foreign students to easily pay their tuition and educational costs in the U.S. and it continued to grow, acquiring UK-based startup Uni-Pay in October. It also announced it will begin to process payments for people getting overseas medical treatment.

Harvard Business Review

  • The non-profit publication, which reports on Harvard Business School and the world of management as a whole, has set a new circulation record of 285,000. When you add this to their 6 best-selling books and the launch of its Visual Library, HBR is nothing less than impressive.
  • It was a 2015 National Magazine Award Finalist in the General Excellence category, won the 2015 Digiday Publishing Award for best publishing website design and has had a 26%-spike in site visitors since last year.

Harvard iLab

  • The iLab has offered all Harvard students – no matter their school – a collaborative working space, as well as an incubator program to 50 selected ventures each semester. It’s now bringing this same model to NYC with its Startup Studio.

    Havard iLab
    The Harvard Innovation Lab on HBS’ Allston Campus.
  • In the past few years, the iLab has provided financial and expert resources to student-led startups, seeing great success with alumni ventures like WHOOP and HourlyNerd – both of which are also 50 on Fire Finalists.

Heidi Williams

  • An economist and professor at MIT, Williams recently received a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. If you’ve heard her speak of her studies, you understand why she landed that honor.
  • For her research on how patents and technology impact innovation in the medical realm, she’s received $625,000.

Dr. Kerry Healey, President of Babson College

  • Healey heads up Babson, and under her, the school has seen a record-breaking Class of 2019. There was a 21% increase in applications, the average SAT scores of applicants rose 24 points compared to Class of 2018, and it’s the first class to have a female majority.

    Dr. Kerry Healey, Babson
    Dr. Kerry Healey, Babson President.
  • Additionally, Babson has garnered recognition for its efforts in entrepreneurship, ranking #1 for entrepreneurship by U.S. News & World Report (Undergraduate and Graduate), Entrepreneur Magazine and the Princeton Review (Undergraduate), as well as the Financial Times (Graduate).

Ned Sahin, Brain Power

  • Sahin is the founder and CEO of Brain Power, a wearable system leveraging Google Glass for children with autism. Its audiovisual experience helps users learn life skills, and it’s already secured a $1.3 million in SBIR funding and another, larger grant from Google.
  • Brain Power and its founder have received a seemingly endless list of awards, including the “Scientific Achievement” from Birch Family Services, “Excellence in Technology” from ANCA Naturally Autistic Society, “40 under 40” from the Boston Business Journal and “Top Educational App” from Cynopsis Media.


  • Channeling the power of big data for schools, Panorama has helped districts, charter programs and government officials access insight into how they can better serve students, parents and teachers.
  • This summer, Panorama secured $12 million in Series A funding. Its platform has been widely adopted, currently used by approximately 6,000 schools and 3 million students.

Society of Grownups

  • There’s nothing more adult than talking personal finance. Society of Grownups has been providing education in this realm with its now more than 230 approachable events (like supper clubs) with CFPs.
  • For its unique approach to helping people learn to manage their money, Society of Grownups has been named one of the Boston Globe’s Best of the New, as well as The Improper Bostonian’s Best New Addition for goods and services. It’s also had its name dropped in Forbes, Fast Money, Wired, the Washington Post and Yahoo!Finance.

Startup Institute

  • Startup Institute’s programs provide students a fast track to a career in the startup world, being so successful that it managed to land $3M Series A financing from Silicon Valley Bank with follow-on funding from Accomplice.

    Startup Institute.
  • With new CEO Diane Hessan, Startup Institute is strategizing its next steps to growth with new curricula and strategic partnerships. But its already been doing a good job at setting graduates up for success with 92% of alumni securing employment within 100 days of finishing a program.


  • Coming out of the Harvard iLab, Tetrascience is building momentum to become a major platform for research and development. It’s already received $3 million in seed funding for its solution, which lets researchers hook up their instruments and automate different processes within their experiments.
  • The startup completed the Y Combinator program and won a Digital Science Catalyst Grant in January.

Thought Industries

  • Thought Industries and its commerce-ready learning platform let customers – including Reader’s Digest and Penton Media – monetize their content quickly and easily.
  • Lately, it’s introduced 18 new branded digital learning websites. Thought Industries has also boosted its platform’s capabilities, adding features that allow people to purchase products in the midst of learning.

Tracey Dodenhoff, Center for Research Innovation at Northeastern

  • The CRI, under Dodenhoff’s leadership, set up the Research, Innovation and Scholarship Expo (RISE) and unites students, faculty and members of the school’s innovation community.
  • The center has hosted 17 global companies whose 2014 combined revenue exceeds $500 billion. And CRI’s 2014 revenue was $5,845,933. That’s 12 times more than that of 2013.

Youth Ventures (United Way)

  • Participation in the United Way Youth Ventures program has doubled in the last year, as more than 300 youths aged 14 to 18 worked on business plans for social enterprises that would positively influence their communities in 2015.
  • Support for the program has also increased. There are now about 100 mentors (up from 50 last year) offering their expertise, and Youth Ventures secured a grant for $250K from Citi Foundation Youth Opportunity Fund.

Eventbrite - BostInno's 50 on Fire