A Brief History of Education Technology Companies in Utah

If you’ve ever wondered why so many education technology companies got their start in Utah, the simple answer is proximity. Not to world-class ski resorts and national parks (although they may have helped), but to a hotbed of higher ed and high tech.

Silicon Slopes—Utah’s booming startup and tech community—boasts 7,000 tech-focused companies. Most are located along the I-15 corridor that connects Salt Lake City and Provo. Along the way (and throughout the state), you’ll also find more than 30 institutions of higher education:

9 public colleges and universities

4 private colleges and universities

8 technical colleges

10 for-profit and career colleges

Education & Technology in Utah: 2008–2018

These growth statistics show how Utah’s emphasis on higher ed and high tech helped create an incubator for education technology companies:

  • 12.8% increase in educational attainment—the number of people with college degrees or workforce certificates
  • 4.9% annual growth in the tech industry—more than triple the growth rate of the U.S. tech industry
  • 2nd in the nation for tech industry job growth—and the largest tech industry among states with an economy of similar size
  • 7th in the nation for educational attainment—53% of Utah residents have a college degree or workforce certificate

6 Utah-Based EdTech Companies for Higher Ed

Here are six examples of successful education technology companies founded and operating in Utah that offer innovative layers for your higher ed tech stack. 

1. Helix Education

Marketing and enrolling

Before students can start learning anything at your institution, you have to get them in the door (real or virtual). Cue the solution by Helix Education for enterprise enrollment growth. With their marketing, enrollment, and retention platform, Helix aggregates data to help optimize decisions about marketing and recruitment. The result is improved student engagement and retention. Founded in 1987 as Datamark, Helix changed their name and expanded their focus in 2014 after acquiring the technology assets of Altius Education.

2. Instructure

Teaching and learning

The founders of Instructure got the idea for their flagship technology, the Canvas learning management system, while studying computer science at BYU on a complicated and unreliable LMS. They set up shop in 2008 and launched their open-source learning platform in 2011 after extensive input from faculty and instructional technologists. Since then, Instructure has raised the bar for every LMS on the market by making ease of use, near-perfect uptime, and LTI integrations industry standards. In 2019, they acquired MasteryConnect, another edtech company with roots in the Beehive State.

3. Kuali

Managing and operating

With a mission to build better software by leveraging shared resources among higher ed institutions, the Kuali Foundation was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 2006. In 2014, members launched Kuali in the heart of the Silicon Slopes as a for-profit company focused on software for university operations. Their offerings are cloud based, open source, and modular with solutions for financials, research, business continuity, no-code applications, and curriculum and catalog management.

4. Lucid for Education

Discovering and collaborating

Lucid was founded in 2010 to improve visual communication and collaboration for work environments. Likewise, their education solution provides a platform for discovery and collaboration. With engaging tools that facilitate deep learning, it enables educators to create real-world learning activities that emphasize critical thinking, creativity, and communication. And it gives visual learners a way to see and understand concepts as Venn diagrams, curriculum flows, and entity relationship diagrams.

5. Qualtrics

Researching and analyzing

A pair of brothers and their dad started Qualtrics in a basement in 2002. From their humble beginnings, they’ve emerged as one of the fastest-growing technology companies globally. In addition to serving more than 75% of the Fortune 100, their research and insights software is also used by 99 of the top 100 business schools, as well as other academic and business departments at colleges and universities. Their software is a tool for academic research and institutional research to help improve the student experience.

6. ConexED

Connecting and engaging

Like Instructure, ConexED was founded by a visionary student who knew there must be a better way. Studying business at Westminster College, while also running her own company, the future CEO of ConexED struggled to find time for on-campus appointments with instructors and academic advisors. Her solution: student services for the digital age. Founded in 2014, ConexED makes campus services more streamlined and accessible with ADA and FERPA-compliant software for scheduling, meeting, messaging, collaborating, and reporting.

Get a demo of ConexED and see for yourself:

  • What you can do with the ConexED digital student services platform.
  • How it helps you connect students to the right help at the right time.
  • Why Utah is the place for education technology companies.