About the Incubator


The HeadStarter Network is hosting this two-day, invitation-only event on the eve of the National Head Start Association’s 2017 Parent and Family Engagement Conference.

This special Incubator will create opportunities for digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), Blockchain, and neuro-computing to enhance the impact of early childhood education and development. How do children acquire the essential skills that they’ll need to thrive in this age of AI and automation? What does the digital native era mean for innovation in early childhood education policy, curricula, and experience?

The Incubator will bring together a unique mix of tech and design experts, academics, and creative members of the early childhood education community to explore and design bold ideas with practical implications. They will form interdisciplinary teams to tackle a number of strategic challenges through collective learning, debate, games, and workshops. At the end of the two days, each group will present its ideas and solutions to a panel of distinguished judges who will present the winning team with a prize.

For more information on the Incubator, please contact Courtney Christensen at cchristensen@nhsa.org

Important info

Dates and Times:
December 2nd, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
December 3rd, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Breakfast and lunch will be served

Hotel: JW Marriott Austin
110 East 2nd Street
Austin, TX 78701, US
Reserve with this link

Participant Happy Hour:
December 2nd, 5:00 pm

Final Team Presentations & Judging Ceremony:
December 3rd, 2:00 - 4:00 pm


Day 1, December 2nd

  • Doors will open at 8 am, and breakfast will be served.
  • We will then kick off the event with a welcome by HeadStarter Network Board Chair Yasmina Vinci at  9:00 am  as well as a couple of “fire starter talks” to inspire the participants, frame the conversation and get everyone into the right mindset for the day. Then the facilitators will introduce themselves and the judges, and present the judging criteria, “ground rules” and the agenda for the two days. 
  • Participants will then self-select into teams of 5-7 members each, which will be given ample freedom to design their activities for the day themselves, as they create and develop ideas that will advance the role of technology in early childhood education.  
  • Lunch will be served at noon  
  • Teams will continue to develop their ideas through the afternoon while facilitators move from team to team to provide guidance, answer questions and check in.  
  • The session ends at 5pm, and all participants are invited to a Happy Hour from 5-6 pm to celebrate the work of the day. 

Day 2, December 3rd 

  • Doors will open at  8 am , and breakfast will be served.
  • At 9:00 am, Yasmina Vinci will kick us off again and review some of the highlights from Day 1. Then the teams will continue their work.
  • Lunch will be served at noon. 
  • From  2 - 4 pm , the teams will share their final work product (manifesto, collage, product pitch, video, report, point-of-view or something entirely different) in a 10 min. presentation on the main stage with all participants, the judges and the public (the final session is open to the public).
  • Judges will review the presentations and, based on the judging criteria, award the winning team with a prize. The incubator will end at 4pm followed by a closing Happy Hour. 

Frequently asked questions

How did you select the 50 participants?
We selected participants to represent a diverse cross-section of thinkers, innovators and doers from an interdisciplinary group across the early childhood education field. We are thrilled to have such a distinguished group attend, including early childhood education and development innovators, funders and technology experts. 
Can you share the participant list?
If you are a participant, you may request the participant list by emailing Courtney Christensen at cchristensen@nhsa.org .

What do I need to do to prepare for the Incubator experience?
As the Incubator is intended to be organic and an opportunity to develop new ideas, we ask that you come with nothing prepared aside from an open mindset and a willingness to think and work outside the blocks. 
What's the dress code?
We recommend casual clothing and comfortable shoes for the day.
Will there be food and beverages?
We will offer a breakfast and lunch buffet on both days. Beverages and snacks will be available throughout the day, with a participant Happy Hour following the close of the first day. 

Media and social media

Is there a social media hashtag?
Yes, the hashtag is: #TechEarlyEd 

What can I share via social media?
While the Incubator is a private event, we principally encourage social media sharing. All of the firestarter talks are ok to cover. However, we ask you to please follow the Chatham House rule for your teams: you may share quotes and pictures, but please don’t attribute any quotes without first asking the person for permission. A good rule of thumb is to generally not attribute any statements to a person and rather tweet or post them “blindly.”

Will Press be Present?
We have invited select reporters from national media to attend and cover the event, however, the same Chatham House Rule restrictions apply to them.

What happens with the content generated at the workshop?
Photos and videos of the event will be posted to headstarternetwork.org. Interviews and blog posts with some participants will also be added to the site. A report with highlights and key outcomes will be shared with all participants and posted to the HeadStarter Network website in the weeks after the event. We will promote all these materials to press and via social media in order to extend the conversation beyond the weekend.



Caterina Rindi

Caterina Rindi comes from a background in education and non-profits; through her efforts developing more scalable opportunities and tapping existing resources via peer-to-peer technologies, she became involved in the bitcoin and blockchain ecosystem in 2013.

Today, Caterina lends her expertise to fintech startups as well as other clients in industries ranging from P2P collaborative economies, consumer products, governance, and healthcare, and is helping organizations think about tapping the advantages of decentralized, transparent, secure databases and self-executing contracts.

She is also addressing the responsibility of our wealthiest citizens to care for the environment and their communities, and use their social impact positively.

Caterina is an international consultant and multilingual speaker, traveling frequently between Europe and the United States.


Dean Kakridas

Dean thinks business and speaks design. He lives and works at the intersection of technology, design, and brand. He seeks big challenges with high-performing teams to create great business outcomes through designing great physical and digital user experiences that improve the lives of people. He’s spent his entire 20+year career in the technology space as an engineer, business development leader, and innovator spanning computing, Internet, and mobile/ digital sectors. Dean holds a BS Degree in Industrial Engineering and Information Systems from Northeastern University. 

Throughout his professional career, Dean has contributed to the growth of cutting edge companies such as Sun Microsystems (workstations), NEC Technologies (PC’s), Kendall Square Research (supercomputers), Microtouch (touchscreen technology), Opera Software (web browser), Macromedia (flash-lite for mobile), and frog, Ziba Design, and Cogniance (design & innovation services).

In addition, Dean has founded or been a key early stage contributor or CxO on the startup teams of Silent Systems (sold to 3M), Outbox, Umbel, Reaction Inc. (CCO), nineten (founder), Agency Spotter, and International Accelerator (MD). 


Doreen Lorenzo

Doreen Lorenzo is a successful leader of global creative firms who advised Fortune 100 companies on design and innovation issues for decades. In September of 2017 she was appointed Assistant Dean in the new school of Design and Creative Technologies at the University of Texas, Austin. She was previously the Director of the Center for Integrated Design at UT. She is a co-founder of mobile video insights firm Vidlet, as well as a board member and advisor of several other startups, and a columnist for Fast Company Co.Design and Medium. A recognized thought leader on business and design issues, she speaks publicly about her signature leadership style and the power of empathy to drive business results. A Manhattan native, she maintains that everything in life connects back to a Ramones song.

Doreen is an ardent believer in the advantages of “soft skills” like empathy and humor in business. She speaks at industry conferences, at private events, and to the media about her experience using these often overlooked skills to understand and motivate creative people. A driven and successful woman in a male-dominated industry, Doreen also speaks about women in leadership and coaches aspiring women leaders to help them find their own paths to success.


Jennifer Sukis 

With a background in Swiss design and typography, Jennifer's journey as a designer has led her from branding to posters, apps to AI. Today she works with IBM Watson to provide creative direction across their portfolio of cognitive enabling products. This new technology gives us the ability to look across vast scopes of data to discover patterns, connections and insights never before possible. Designing tools that might one day point this lens towards history, cultures, archives of knowledge and inklings of ideas is what she hopes will be a giant step forward in more deeply understanding the universe, each other and ourselves.




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