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Today, there are over four times as many people learning English than there are native speakers. Close to 40% of those learners are using some form of software to increase their understanding of the English language.

The problem with many of the language software products currently on the market, however, is that they fail to recognise the fact that those learning English make different grammatical errors from those made by native speakers.

Lin Sun and Yichi Zhang, two Chinese PhD students from the University’s Computer Laboratory, aimed to address the shortcomings in the language software market by developing a product which addresses the specific types of errors made by non-native speakers. The two formed a company, Greedy Intelligence, and a product, named Gamma, a proof-reading and grammar-tutoring solution that specifically targets learners.

Gamma is the first software to incorporate grammar-checking technology into an adaptive learning environment that, in turn, creates a revolutionary platform for English language education.

The two approached the Seed Funds team for funding. The latter was impressed by the high standard of Greedy Intelligence’s proposal and its clever solution as it enables most of the grammar checking to be done by a computer without human intervention.

With a PathFinder award from Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds and a Proof of Market grant from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), Greedy Intelligence is aiming to identify potential partners and customers in both the UK and China, to evaluate alternative pricing strategies and estimate early stage revenues, and to obtain a ready-to-use web interface for prototype demonstration and future use in products.

Image: Photo credit: Students take part in a workshop by Novartis AG via Flickr