Startups, innovators, and entrepreneurs – it’s time to start brainstorming! 48Hour Launch is only a few weeks away, and this year, we’re looking for startup ideas focused on learning.

It’s an important topic in local business. Allow us to explain.

Over the last few years, workforce development and education have emerged as major priorities for the Chattanooga area.  Like many other cities across the U.S., we’re grappling with unprecedented changes in our economic landscape. From rapid advancements in technology to the strains of post-recession recovery, a number of forces are transforming the way we do business. In Chattanooga, this moment of transition has exposed some critical speed bumps in the path forward.

Our educational attainment rates are lagging. Our need for highly-skilled technical workers is growing.1

This is a complex challenge that no one local entity can resolve on its own. The issues are multi-faceted and will take years to fully address. But we all have an important role to play in moving this work ahead and making Chattanooga a more economically competitive city.

Entrepreneurs, that’s where you come in.

Education and workforce development are more than just local priorities – they’re a global market. Business solutions that improve educational experiences in the classroom, workplace and beyond are in high demand. In fact, a 2013 report by IBIS Capital valued the global education market at $4.4 trillion.2 Over the next several years, that estimate is only expected to grow. E-learning, in particular, is driving that upward trajectory.

Are your wheels turning yet?

Chattanooga is especially well-positioned to innovate in this space. We have the nation’s first fully-functional, widely-accessible gigabit Internet. The Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund has already made this connection. It’s investing $150,000 in Chattanooga projects that use the gig to advance education and workforce development.

48Hour Launch: The Learning Edition is designed to serve as a conduit for some of those projects. We’re also offering our event as a platform for building prototypes that may be eligible for further development through Hackanooga in April.

But if you have an idea that doesn’t use the gig or make sense for Hackanooga, don’t sweat it. 48Hour Launch is open to entrepreneurs with all types of ideas that enhance the learning experience.

We’ll be accepting applications until Tuesday, March 18. Hurry up and assemble your teams! You have one week left to brainstorm, and we can’t wait to hear your ideas. Click here when you’re ready to apply.

In the meantime, stay tuned for more updates on 48Hour Launch: The Learning Edition. Details on this year’s format are on the way!

2 Global e-learning Investment Review, IBIS Capital; 10 Things You Should Know About e-Learning