Glasgow-based eLearning company Micro-Phonics Software Ltd goes global with multinational licence deal.

Date of issue:    April 2017

Glasgow-based start-up company Micro-Phonics Ltd. has concluded negotiations to supply its pronunciation eLearning tool, to a potential 500 million students learning English as a foreign language (EFL) across Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Micro-Phonics Ltd. has signed a deal with Aggregion Ltd. – which operates a cutting-edge digital rights processing platform – and a deal with major distributor Bookhunter LLC.

Consul General of Russia in Edinburgh Andrey A. Pritsepov noted:
 "Launch of this cutting-edge tool at the Russian market, open to new modern technologies, will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the company's development".

The agreements with Aggregion and Bookhunter LLC in Russia are Micro-Phonic’s largest contract to date, representing an exciting new direction in audience scale and new revenues.

The Micro-Phonics tool offers self-paced pronunciation tuition that augments and enhances the teaching of English as a foreign language in the school curriculum. It requires minimal staff training or disruption, and has proven significant gains in teaching productivity and capacity, student performance and pass rates.

Easily incorporated into virtual learning environments in schools, colleges and universities, Micro-Phonics’ Visual Pronunciation Coach offers pronunciation assistance that works with varying accents and blending phonemes. It also enables students to sound out complete words, and students are supported in pronouncing individual words as well as complete sentences. Assessment is drawn from a comprehensive set of 6,000 questions.

Colin Hamilton is the sole creator of this cutting-edge tool. After receiving a positive reception with pilot users at the City of Glasgow College, Mr Hamilton drew on the research expertise of Professor of Linguistics Jane Stuart-Smith and Doctor of Linguistics Rachel Smith (both from the University of Glasgow) to further refine the programme.

Mary B. Mc Manus, Curriculum Head, Faculty of Education and Society, City of Glasgow College said:

"As the largest provider of ESOL in Glasgow, we have a very eclectic student population, but all with the same needs in terms of pronunciation. We offer English language classes to over 1,300 students from 90 different countries, and sometimes struggle to spend enough time with individuals to perfect their pronunciation skills.

“In using the products from Micro-Phonics we have not only seen an improvement in student listening and speaking skills, but also in their self-confidence and independent study techniques. This not only supports those students who perhaps struggle a little with these skills, but also provides a platform for extension work for those who are more proficient in speaking and listening. I would recommend this tool for all levels of language learners from Literacies to Advanced levels."

Professor Jane Stuart-Smith, Professor of, The University of Glasgow said:

“As an outward-facing institution which is rooted in its local community, working with local companies such as Micro-Phonics is hugely important for us at Glasgow University. It not only provides an opportunity for us to understand the impact and relevance of our research beyond academia, but it is also giving a PhD student the experience of working directly with a local SME with global ambitions.”

Mr Hamilton won support for his project from

  1. Scottish Enterprise's "Innovation support"
  2. funds from the University of Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network
  3. First Steps innovation funding from The University of Glasgow
  4. Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher administered by Interface.
  5. He also received extensive support from the Business Gateway's High Growth Pipeline.


Jim Watson, Director of Innovation and Enterprise Services at Scottish Enterprise said,

"As Scotland's innovation agency, we support and encourage businesses to embrace innovation, as it leads directly to commercial products and services that can open up new international revenue streams. It's great news that Micro-Phonics Ltd. has signed this deal and we wish it every success in the future.”

Mr Hamilton said, “I am really excited that my language pronunciation tool is helping thousands of people already in nearly every country in the world. My apps have been downloaded over 30,000 times. We are helping people achieve better English pronunciation every day, in their work and in their daily lives. It is the greatest feeling when you receive positive feedback from people benefiting from using the programme. It has been a very challenging journey getting to this stage, but the positive feedback makes all the effort, testing and research worthwhile.

I initially had the idea for Visual Pronunciation Coach when showing adult literacy tutors how to use ICT in their lessons. After several months of reading about literacy teaching, I started to develop the programme. The birth of my first child brought home to me how fortunate my child was, to have vast resources of education available to him –I wanted to play a part in helping others have the same opportunities. Being able to read, write and communicate, especially in English, are the basic skills we need to get on in life. I wanted to create something to help people at work and at home.

Over the past few years, I have had tremendous support from Scottish Enterprise. Business Gateway, Interface, Scottish Development International, the University of Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network,  the University of Glasgow, Education Scotland and City of Glasgow College, without whom I would not have reached this level of innovation and achievement.

In addition to the above universities, I have also received tremendous support from other Scottish universities. I have also been assisted a great deal by Interface, whose role is to connect organisations to relevant academic expertise to develop new products, services and processes. Interface played a key role for Micro-Phonics Ltd. in this way.

The universities I have worked with include Glasgow School of Art Digital Design Studios, the Scottish Centre for Enabling Technologies at the University of the West of Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, The University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh. Without their academic support and expertise I would have not been able to progress the product to where it is today.

More development followed, and Micro-Phonics Ltd. was a finalist in the British Council ELTons Awards 2012 for Excellence in English Language Teaching, cited as being ‘innovative, practical and effective’. Visual Pronunciation Coach has been translated to app form, and is available for purchase on Google Play. Mr Hamilton has further plans for mobile expansion.

A Mandarin version of the programme is under development. Mr Hamilton currently has a PhD student working at the University of Glasgow, who is researching the role of rhythm in language comprehension. He also has an MBA student from the University of Strathclyde whose dissertation is an examination of the Chinese market for Micro-Phonics Ltd.

A spokeswoman for Bookhunter LLC said:

“We are glad to be working with micro-phonics from Scotland, and look forward to an fruitful future with further opportunities for business development.

The agreements with Aggregion and Bookhunter LLC in Russia are Micro-Phonic’s largest contract to date, representing an exciting new direction in audience scale and new revenues.

Further information:
Colin Hamilton, CEO; Micro-Phonics Software Ltd ;t: 00 44 7931 801101; w: www.micro-phonics.com
e: colin@micro-phonics.com

Colin Hamilton and Consul General of Russia in Edinburgh Andrey A. Pritsepov

Students using the program in classrooms


Further information:
Colin Hamilton, CEO; Micro-Phonics Software Ltd ;t: 00 44 7931 801101; w: www.micro-phonics.com
e: colin@micro-phonics.com