Who we are 2018-02-19T17:19:33+00:00

Who we are


The board of ELiT brings together academics and tech entrepreneurs with pedagogical practitioners.

The founders of the company established ELiT in 2014, identifying the potential use of machine learning and automated assessment to change support for learning English.


Professor Ted Briscoe

Director and Co-Founder

Ted brings academic rigour to the technology behind writeandimprove.com, as a founder of the company. He is Professor of Computational Linguistics at the University of Cambridge and the inaugural director of the Alta Institute, which conducts research into automated language teaching and assessment. He has published over 100 research articles and three books in the areas of automated speech and language processing. He was senior editor of the journal Computer Speech and Language for 15 years, and is co-founder and CEO of iLexIR Ltd, a consultancy and technology provider specialising in language processing applications. In 2009, iLexIR spun-out Swiftkey, maker of the world’s most popular predictive keyboard for smartphones.

Email Ted

Mike Milanovic

Director and Co-Founder

Michael Milanovic has worked in English Language learning and assessment since 1977. He joined Cambridge English Language Assessment in 1989 as Director of Research and Evaluation. He became Deputy CEO in 1995 and CEO in 2003.

Michael now has a number of roles including Senior Advisor to the National Educational Examinations Authority (NEEA) in China, Visiting Professor with CRELLA, University of Bedfordshire, Trustee of the Bell Foundation, consultant with the Automated Language Teaching and Assessment Institute (ALTA) at the University of Cambridge, Board Director of Cambridge ClassServer and Advisor to the Malaysian Ministry of Education and CMEDT.

Email Mike

Paul Butcher

CTO, Director and Co-Founder

Paul is a veteran of several high-tech startups. Most recently he was Chief Software Architect of SwiftKey, where as the first non-founder to join the company, he was responsible for developing the technology from proof-of-concept through to commercial success. The software has become the global best-selling app on Android and is preinstalled on more than 200 million mobile devices worldwide.

Prior to SwiftKey, Paul was CTO of Texperts, a mobile question-answering service, and CTO of Smartner, a mobile e-mail technology provider.

Paul is also an author of software engineering textbooks, and regularly presents at international conferences on parallelism and concurrency.

Email Paul

Sean Hayde


As director of business and marketing at Cambridge English Language Assessment, Sean is responsible for the Business and Marketing department. He joined the organisation as Development Manager for East Asia in 2001, and was Assistant Director, Business Development from 2005–2008. In an extensive career in ELT, Sean has taught English as a foreign language in Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. He also worked for the British Council in Saudi Arabia and the UK. He holds a degree in History and English from University College, Cork, and a postgraduate qualification in Business Administration from Henley Management School.

Email Sean

Mila Rendle


Mila Rendle is Director of Digital Strategy for the English Language Teaching division at Cambridge University Press where she is responsible for digital products and services for ELT teachers and learners. She has over 15 years of experience in publishing and digital media and previously worked for Macmillan and Oxford University Press. Much of her work has been at the ‘cutting edge’ of new business models and technology, working with a diverse range of 3rd party learning companies and digital start-ups to put together new propositions for learners.

Email Mila

Nick Saville


Nick Saville is the director of research & validation at Cambridge English. He has specialised in language testing and assessment since 1987 and holds a PhD from the University of Bedfordshire in the area of language test impact. He is the representative of Cambridge ESOL in ALTE – the association of language testers in Europe – and has close involvement with other European initiatives, such as the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) His research interests include: the development and validation of tasks and rating scales for Speaking tests; the development of models for investigating test impact; the implementation of quality management systems (QMS) in test development and validation; and the uses of language assessment for migration and citizenship purposes. He presents regularly at international conferences and has published widely on issues related to language assessment. He has been an associate editor of Language Assessment Quarterly since its launch in 2004.

Email Nick


The board of ELiT brings together academics and tech entrepreneurs with pedagogical practitioners. The founders of the company established ELiT in 2014, identifying the potential use of machine learning and automated assessment to change support for learning English.

ELiT has assembled a team of specialists to deliver the products including:

Software Engineers

Experienced software engineers develop our toolkits to ensure they are robust and adaptable.

Data Scientists

Big-data scientists ensure our products can scale to accommodate the demands of users worldwide.

Annotators and Teachers

EFL teachers annotate our training data to ensure our tools are accurate and perform on real-world data.


We work closely with our partners.

ELiT is disrupting the status quo for English Language Training (ELT) by offering a smart online solution that leverages artificial intelligence to provide fast, contextualised feedback to English-language learners. This unique functionality, combined with the brand reputation and marketing resources that Cambridge University brings to the joint venture, provides a significant opportunity for Write & Improve and our related products to become the ELT solution of choice for English-language learners.

We do not believe that automated assessment will replace human teachers and examiners anytime soon, but it can add great value to their work. For example, it can provide additional layers of quality control, speed up processes and allow teachers to offer more objective in-course tests which give detailed diagnostic feedback to help students to improve their English more effectively.
Nick Saville, Director Research & Validation at Cambridge English

Ted Briscoe & ALTA.

Key research that underpins ELiT has been led by Professor Ted Briscoe and his team at Cambridge University’s Institute for Automated Language Teaching and Assessment (ALTA) which focuses on research in computer systems and platforms, corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, speech processing and machine learning. The multi-disciplinary team brings together experts in computing, engineering, linguistics and language assessment to investigate new ways of using technology to enhance language learning and to develop cutting-edge approaches to assessment which will benefit learners and teachers worldwide. It forms part of Cambridge University’s interdisciplinary Language Sciences Initiative.



iLexIR is also a key partner to ELiT. Through their experts in natural language processing (NLP), computational linguistics, and its applications, iLexIR harnesses the cutting-edge research that comes from ALTA and delivers the viable solutions that ELiT then develops into products.


Cambridge Assessment English

ELiT is also working in close partnership with practitioners at Cambridge Assessment English who already have extensive experience in using technology to support language learning, including the multi-million-word Cambridge Learner Corpus which is a uniquely extensive database of learners’ English which is used to enhance Cambridge English exams and learning materials. Huge advances in areas like speech recognition and machine learning mean that computers can now complement the work of human assessors, giving surprisingly accurate evaluations of language and helping to diagnose areas for improvement.

Cambridge English