News & Events

Componica Locates at UI's Technology Innovation Center

At its meeting Aug. 4, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa approved a lease for Componica, LLC as the newest tenant of the University of Iowa's Technology Innovation Center (TIC).

Componica will develop state-of-the-art software for language learning and audio/speech processing, initially for English as a Second Language (ESL) students. The Componica Pronunciation Trainer features a unique ability to interact with users, says co-founder Steven Mitchell. Students can see if they are producing the correct sounds using a real-time display of their mouth and vocal tract, he explained.

"Students get immediate feedback from the software, thus enhancing the students' performance and increasing their confidence in using the foreign language. These tools enable teachers to be more efficient and effective," he said.

Mitchell, Nancy Ridenour, Katya Boltanova and Elizabeth Nichols founded Componica in 2004. Mitchell received a Ph.D. in computer engineering from the UI, while Ridenour received a B.A. in journalism from the UI and has six years of ESL teaching experience in Japan and Korea. Boltanova is a graduate of foreign language acquisition from Gorno-Altaisk State University and was a Rotary International Scholar at the UI. Nichols received M.A. and M.B.A degrees from the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas respectively. Justin Evans, who became a partner in January 2005, is marketing director at Componica; he is a 2004 graduate of Tippie College of Business.

"We are an interdisciplinary company, combining expertise in electrical and computer engineering and linguistics to make a product to improve communication among the peoples of the world," Mitchell said.

The software is expected to be on the market in about a year, he added. The company plans to further develop products in language and sound technology with a promising outlook for language learning products expanding in the U.S., South Korea, India and China.

With the addition Componica, the TIC will have 17 tenant companies. Thirty-one TIC "graduate" firms have expanded their business or met other business goals after leaving the incubator and a half-dozen other companies remained in business after leaving TIC. Componica, located at A109 in Oakdale Hall the UI's Oakdale Campus, becomes the 90th new business venture using advanced technology to be admitted to the TIC since the UI incubator was established in 1984.


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