SEI Ventures will invest in seed-stage companies and give startups the opportunity to pilot their technologies across Strayer University and Capella University.

Strategic Education, the US-based owner of for-profit higher education services institutions Strayer University and Capella University, has launched a seed-stage corporate venturing fund called SEI Ventures.

The fund size has not been revealed. SEI Ventures will focus on the edtech sector and offer portfolio companies the opportunity to pilot their technologies across its institutions, including Strayer and Capella universities as well as coding bootcamps.

SEI Ventures will be led by managing director Terry McDonough. It will issue a formal request for funding applications in 2019 and will particularly seek out companies that exploit artificial intelligence, improve non-instructional student experiences and help retain students.

The fund’s first investment is a $500,000 commitment to Ecree, a US-based developer of an automated assessment tool that gives students feedback on written assignments in real time.

Ecree will use the money to further improve its platform and to attract more users. The tool has been available to students at Strayer University for two years and Strategic Education claimed this had significantly improved average grades.

Karl McDonnell, chief executive of Strategic Education, said: “Our success in serving students depends on us being at the leading edge of innovation and digital advancement.

“SEI Ventures gives us a platform to support entrepreneurs who can ultimately put better tools in the hands of our students to link their learning to professional and personal goals. It will serve as another source of innovation for the entire Strategic Education family.

“Writing is a basic skill anyone needs to succeed – period, and yet it is shocking to see students struggle with basic writing tasks. Ecree embodies our vision of equipping adult learners with this critical skill, and we look forward to supporting and watching Ecree grow.”