2023 Launchpad & People’s Choice winner

The LaunchPad event offers a unique platform for first-time entrepreneurs who have created a technology product intended to impact world language education.








June 8, 2023 @ 10:45am CST

CALICO Conference

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN USA

Hayo Reinders

Hayo Reinders

Master of Ceremonies

Dr. Hayo Reinders is TESOL Professor and Director of Research at Anaheim University and Professor of Applied Linguistics at KMUTT in Thailand. See

How it works

Five startup companies pitch their technology innovation to a live audience at CALICO, an international language technology conference. A panel of highly specialized judges provide feedback and select a winner based on the pedagogical merits of the product. The winner receives formal recognition in the form of an honorary plaque. Additionally, a People’s Choice award is determined by the audience and also receives an honorary plaque.

About the Location

Launchpad will take place during the 2023 Conference of the Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO) on June 8, 2023. The conference will be hosted by the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA. The CALICO conference is the premier meeting for world language education and technology. The LaunchPad event is free for all conference attendees. Register to attend CALICO so you won’t miss LaunchPad 2023!

Best Buy Theater, the 2023 LaunchPad venue. Photo by Tim Rummelhoff.

2023 finalists!

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Language Project Specialist: Lia Sauder

Primary Audience: Government/Adult Education

Diplomatic Language Services supports language training for adults working for the federal government. Since 2019, DLS has been building a virtual reality (VR) platform for culture-based and task-based language learning. DLS VR officially launched in 2021. A language student and language instructor visit virtual environments together during class time, completing real-life tasks like ordering a meal, booking a hotel room, conducting a business negotiation, etc. The authentic imagery in VR creates a cultural context in which students can both review their existing language and cultural knowledge while running into new vocabulary and important cultural elements. This supplements intensive classroom language training and prepares students to interact authentically in the target language.

Eduling Speak

Founder and CEO: Linh Phung

Primary Audience: Graduate, Undergrad, Community College, High School

Being first of its kind to apply Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT), Eduling Speak connects English learners to complete a task or game together by speaking in English. Learners can be connected in several ways: randomly with another learner, with their friends they add to their friend list, with classmates in a class led by an educator, or with volunteers. It’s convenient, effective, and fun. The newest version of the app also has hundreds of tasks that learners can complete individually in the solo mode to develop their listening skills, hear good speaking samples, and develop their linguistic repertoire through input-based and recording tasks.

Founder and CEO: Anthony Spadafino

Primary Audience: Government/Adult Ed., Undergrad, Community College, High School

Lingostar is the the language learning conversation partner for the modern age. It is an AI who you speak to in real, unscripted, back-and-forth conversations in voice or text about any topic to reach fluency. It is conversational immersion at your fingertips. It currently speaks English, Spanish, and French – although 20+ languages are coming soon. It gives pronunciation feedback, makes grammar corrections, and suggests Study games.

Mage Duel

President and Founder: Deanna Terzian

Primary Audience: Government/Adult Ed., Translators

Mage Duel is a serious language learning game that builds receptive and productive language abilities using an innovative neural-network-based semantic similarity engine to accelerate players’ language fluency and improve their phonological, morphological, and semantic discrimination skills. Mage Duel exists to support military linguists and civilians seeking to master communicative competency in a new language and is a cradle to grave solution for vocabulary acquisition and translation competency to complement formal language study.

Pangea Chat

Head of Product: Paige Poole

Primary Audience: University and High School Students and Teachers

Pangea Chat’s vision is to foster dialogue and intercultural exchange within a global community of language learners, one text at a time. To do this, Pangea Chat has created an instant messaging platform that allows students to “learn a language while texting their friends” in an intercultural and educational space that is as fun, social, and interactive as their digital lives outside the classroom. Pangea Chat provides a low-risk, high-support environment for language learning whose foundation lies in our novel interactive translator and interactive grammar checker.


Exposure to thousands of language educators and several successful companies in the field through the Tech Center news and website.

The Tech Center will add your company to its network of 31 language programs at 21 leading institutions of higher education and will invite your company to participate in select targeted Tech Center-sponsored events and projects.

Past participants will provide mentoring for the competition.

Inclusion in our network of innovators, which includes highly specialized professionals in the field of language learning technology.

Winners will be featured in promotional materials for the event.

LaunchPad Award

The LaunchPad Award is given to a single finalist and is determined by a group of judges appointed by the Tech Center. Judges typically include Flagship stakeholders (program directors, teachers, and students), leadership of established companies, and potential investors.

LaunchPad judging criteria:

  1. Flagship Fit: the product has potential to be used in the Flagship context. Learn about The Language Flagship here.
  2. Product Alignment: the product’s purpose is aligned with its affordances, features, and functions.
  3. User Experience: the product supports user engagement and the user experience through a well designed user interface.
  4. Innovation: the product utilizes innovative approaches and/or technology to address a need in technology-enhanced language learning and/or teaching.
  5. Pitch Quality: the product pitch is well structured, convincing, and utilizes visual media in effective ways.

Qualification Criteria

Companies must meet the following criteria:

  1. Must be a seed- or early-stage company (must not have raised over five million in funds from combined funding sources) with a main focus on the language education market.
  2. Have a language technology product designed (or adaptable) for use in higher education. 
  3. Have a language technology product, process or service in use by customers or early beta (testing) customers at time of application.

People’s Choice Award

Voted live by the LaunchPad audience

The People’s Choice Award is determined at the end of the competition and is based on a simple majority of votes. Only one LaunchPad finalist receives this award. The awardee may or may not be the same recipient of the LaunchPad Award selected by the judges.


Competition Rules

Companies may present only one technology product, process or service and are responsible for protecting their own intellectual property (IP) rights.

Each company has an equal amount of time to present but may opt to forgo presentation time for feedback.

Learn More About LaunchPad and Our Previous Finalists

The LaunchPad Competition started in 2017 and was inspired by the  the Japanese TV show Dragon’s Den, and its U.S. successor, Shark Tank. LaunchPad is designed to facilitate early dialogs between startup companies and world language professionals. 

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Contact Information


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