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Founder of Duolingo, Apple’s iPhone App of the Year, to Headline LaunchCMU

Leaders at highly successful startup companies such as Duolingo, Expii, Inc., Digital Dream Labs and more will converge with venture capitalists and angel investors at LaunchCMU, a showcase for innovations and research related to emerging technologies. Following a successful event in Silicon Valley last spring, the program is returning to Pittsburgh for a sixth installment on Oct. 8 in Carnegie Mellon University’s Cohon University Center.

LaunchCMU creates crucial connections between Carnegie Mellon alumni entrepreneurs and investors, and features some of the world’s most successful startup companies. For the 2015 iterations of the event, LaunchCMU is exploring “The Business of Learning,” and showcase transformative efforts in improving education, including initiatives for technology-enhanced learning.

 “As an early-stage startup, interaction with investors is imperative, and LaunchCMU provides companies with the opportunity to present their concepts to venture capitalists and other alumni entrepreneurs,” said David Mawhinney, founding co-director of CIE and associate teaching professor of entrepreneurship at the Tepper School of Business. “LaunchCMU is truly a celebration of what Carnegie Mellon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has to offer.”

The LaunchCMU events will highlight successful startup companies as well as research emerging from CMU projects, opening with an address from Luis von Ahn, co-founder and CEO of Duolingo. Duolingo aims to help people learn a new language using a variety of speaking, listening, translation and multiple choice challenges. The platform has won numerous awards including iPhone App of the Year, Google’s “Best of the Best” and TechCrunch’s Best Education Startup.

The Digital Dream Labs team will share how they introduced their products to major retailers such as Toys “R” Us. Since launching in 2013, the innovative minds at Digital Dream Labs have created the first Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) focused gaming system, Puzzlets, which was named one of top three coding toys of 2015 by the Wall Street Journal and referred to as “addictive, no matter how young or old you are” by USA Today.

Other technology startup companies that will be featured at LaunchCMU include Interstacks, TutorGen, Inc., Simcoach Games, Acrobatiq, Learnworld, and Expii, Inc., which is led by Po Shen Loh, associate professor of mathematics and coach of the USA International Math Olympiad team. Additionally, Norman Bier, executive director of the Simon Initiative, will share research results and insights on future technologies.

More than 24 startups are expected to put on display other technological discovery applications at the Demo & Poster Session. These companies are emerging out of programs such as Olympus PROBES, the James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellows Program, the NSF I-Corps Site program, the Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund, Traffic 21/UTC, Quality of Life Technology Center, and the Disruptive Health Technology Institute. CMU companies that have been supported by the technology-based economic development group Innovation Works will be a special feature.

“The companies presenting at this year’s LaunchCMU bring valuable insights and innovations related to technology-enhanced learning, and we are excited to provide them with an opportunity to share their ideas,” added Lenore Blum, co-director of the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and founding director of Project Olympus.

In addition to the showcase talks and Demo & Poster Session, the event will conclude with a networking reception for entrepreneurs and members of the Carnegie Mellon community.

LaunchCMU is organized biannually by the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), which was created in 2012 to strengthen and serve the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Carnegie Mellon, and to accelerate the commercialization of university research and ideas.