The LaunchPad, sponsored by the Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center at the University of Hawaii, features first-time entrepreneurs who have created a technology product intended to fill a need in world language education. A panel of experienced professionals and attendees will provide input and decide on a winner based on the pedagogical merits of the product.

Event Overview

The LaunchPad competition consists of a 90-minute live event during which a small group of startup companies pitch their innovation and receive feedback from a highly specialized group of judges and an audience of world language educators. The winner of the competition receives an honorary plaque from the Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center. A People’s Choice Award is also given to a winner that is selected by the live audience.

About the LaunchPad

The Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center (Tech Center) is the prime sponsor of the LaunchPad. The Tech Center is an initiative sponsored by the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO) and its mission is to enhance The Language Flagship experience through the effective use of technology.


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 selected Tech Center-sponsored events.

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 2021 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.
  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.

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.

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.


LaunchPad Testimonial
Carlos Seoane, 2017 LaunchPad Finalist

CEO, Extempore

Working with the Tech Center Launchpad has given VEO an excellent platform to build exciting partnerships in language education. In concrete terms, VEO has been able to form work with another growing Edtech platform that will see our software integrated into large-scale cross-cultural projects at University level, in addition to widespread trials with Language Flagship Universities in the US. The Launchpad team are extremely approachable and fantastic to work with. Aside from enjoying working with such enthusiastic and knowledgeable partners, I’m sure the long term benefits of our collaboration will be truly transformative for our business.
Paul Miller, 2018 LaunchPad Finalist


Contact Information


1890 East West Road

Moore Hall 256

Honolulu, HI 96822

(808) 956-5121