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Lingvist - the next generation language-learning software

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Lingvist (Lingvist - the next generation language-learning software)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2017-01-31

Lingvist is an innovative language-learning platform delivering individually tailored, AI-powered language courses for fast, effective learning. Lingvist has successfully concluded its partnership with the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.
Having received a €1.6 million grant in May 2015 from the European SME Instrument initiative, Lingvist has used the funding to develop its innovative language learning platform. The grant provided Lingvist with the resources to increase the efficiency of the software, bringing the app closer to its goal of making language learning 10 times faster. The programme also helped Lingvist expand its language selection, allowing the company to add new courses such as Spanish, French, German, Russian, and English.
Horizon 2020 is the EU’s biggest Research and Innovation programme, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over seven years. The programme enables companies to focus on research and development, scale, and quickly produce tangible results.
“The Horizon2020 programme, via the ‘SME Instrument’, has been incredibly helpful in developing Lingvist. It’s been a great success for us because it has helped us to continue working towards our goal of empowering people to learn. Working on a game-changing language-learning platform requires strong support from both public and private partners and we are very happy to have had H2020 as one of our supporters”, said Mait Müntel, CEO of Lingvist.
Looking back on the partnership, Bernd Reichert, Head of Unit for Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, commented: “With the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, we aim to support market-creating innovation in Europe. Lingvist is one of the first Phase 2 beneficiaries to finish its project. Their disruptive project is a great example of the brilliant innovations we are funding. With their track record of success, we are proud to count them among the top European innovators of our programme. They are certainly an exemplary success story of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument programme!”
The innovative app works across both mobile and computers and has been recognised by additional private investment, most recently from global Internet services company Rakuten – to the tune of €7.2 million.

The objective of this project was to develop Lingvist, the language-learning software, to make language learning 5–10 times faster.
WP1: Prototyping and design
Under Work Package 1, we completed several tasks related to prototyping and design, for which the common goal was to make the product better from a retention and learning speed perspective. Some of the tasks from the initial proposal were slightly amended to better meet the market needs and take into account user feedback. The tasks performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report were as follows.

WP2: Scaling up – Software
Work Package 2 was mostly back-end software development aiming to make the software scalable for millions of users. The two major tasks performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report were as follows.

WP3: Scaling up – Languages
Work undertaken under Scaling up – Languages combined the biggest tasks in terms of working months. In the early stages of the product Lingvist had only one language pair – French for English speakers. During the H2020 project we improved the depth and quality of the content of this particular language module significantly. The content was also extended to create a language module for specific purposes. This module will be published in the product soon.
We produced four major European target languages in addition of French: English, Spanish, German, and Russian. More importantly, 2/3 of the people in the world want to learn English. To respond to their needs, we expanded our English language-learning module even further and added many new source languages: French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese (Traditional and Simplified).

WP4: Testing
Testing of the language modules was a very important part of the tasks performed under the H2020 project. It included: Testing at Language Schools and Universities, Testing on Internet, and orthogonal Tests.

WP5: Demonstration, exploitation, and communication
The dissemination and communication activities have created a substantial awareness of the work performed by us. The main dissemination was performed through the following core activities:
● visiting and demonstrating Lingvist at related exhibitions, fairs, and conferences;
● updating the Lingvist Technologies’ commercialisation plan;
● creating promotional tools and channels.
The current commercialisation strategy has been proven to work. Lingvist Technologies has received additional funding from private sector venture capital investors and technology sector pioneers, including Rakuten, Smartcap, Inventure and others, in the amount of $8 million. Lingvist has executed a successful user acquisition campaign with Tele2 and entered into Partnership and Distribution agreements with Rakuten and PChome, which are expected to result in tangible user acquisition and marketing in Eastern Asian markets in the first half of 2017, followed by a monetisation of the product in these regions.

WP6: Project management
Under this work package continuous project management and reporting activities, as well as conscious and reflexive risk management have been undertaken. Lingvist also made one amendment to the initial project plan to better meet the user requirements.
Our main achievement was proving our learning speed with a highly-respected educational institution. Similar tests will continue after the end of the H2020 project, but even during the project our learning speed was already found to be four times faster than our competitors’ if measured under the same conditions.
The impact of language learning takes much longer to fully manifest than can be observed under a relatively short-term H2020 project. We aimed to build a language-learning software that would help people learn languages 5–10 times faster than the best tools available at that time, and to address the main problem in language learning – the time it takes. Although we didn't reach the former goal we got very close to it, especially when we consider that our competitors improved over time as well. This has a significant impact to all language learners worldwide.
The economic and social impact depends on the number of people who are reached by our software. Although under the H2020 we did not have a massive user acquisition plan, we acquired approximately 600,000 users for testing and development purposes. The bigger impact of the H2020 will come when we start scaling up the software in the consumer market. According to the plan presented in task T5.3 (Commercialisation Plan) we will start active scaling up and user acquisition activities right after the end of the H2020 project. We have already scheduled launch events in Japan and Taiwan and made preparations for the European market.
Annex 1 to the Lingvist explanation of work_period 1