Lost in translation

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A number of start-ups are developing online tools to compete with Google Translate. 

Lost in translation

Some experts predict that learning a foreign language will become unnecessary within the next 10 years as electronic translation programmes become increasingly sophisticated. Here are some of today’s most innovative apps.


Portugal, 2013 // Smart proofreader

Concept / Unbabel can be used to translate thousands of words quickly with its 42,000 translators working around the globe.

How it works / Unbabel’s Smartcheck feature reviews translations and corrects any mistakes made by translators. Businesses can use an Application Programme Interface (API) to translate their documents quickly.

Number of languages /22

Cost / Between €0.04 and €0.05 per word based on volume.


Belgium, 2011 // The network approach

Concept / TextMaster offers translation and proofreading services with the help of freelancers. The start-up has raised €7.4 million since it was founded.

How it works / It manages the translation, correction and proofreading processes through its network of translators.

Number of languages /30

Cost / Between €0.06 and €0.12 per word.


Estonia, 2015 // The DIY approach

Concept /Skuuper offers a way to translate long technical documents. The programme automatically translates the text, then the user checks the terminology and decides on exact wording. The start-up is primarily targeting the legal and medical industries, businesses and media and has so far raised €250,000.

How it works / Skuuper has a translation bank containing 45 million sentences.

Number of languages / 6

Cost / Subscriptions ranging from €2 to €30 per month.


United Kingdom, 2015 // Uber of translation

Concept / Fluently offers translators on demand, asUber does with drivers. The start-up launched its service in March 2016.

How it works / The start-up acts as a marketplace, matching customers from a specific industry with a specialised translator. The applications of listed translators are all carefully reviewed.

Number of languages / 5, with a goal of 20 by the end of 2016.

Cost / The system automatically calculates a job’s cost based on the number of words to be translated, between €0.10 and €0.14 per word.