Friday, April 17, 2015

Technology competition seeks to spur youth innovation

Microsoft is once again opening its doors for young innovators to rise and shine through its premier technology competition. Currently in its thirteenth year, Imagine Cup, a cornerstone of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative is a global student technology programme and competition.

Imagine Cup provides an opportunity for student technologists, developers and aspiring entrepreneurs from all academic backgrounds to collaborate, develop a technology application, create a business plan and gain a keen understanding of what is needed to bring a concept to market. In Imagine Cup, the brightest young minds join together to exemplify the power of student innovation.

The UAE local final will take place on the 22 April 2015 at Higher Colleges of Technology     ( HCT ), Abu Dhabi. The top six finalists are teams from Ajman University of science and technology (AUST), University of Wollongong Dubai (UOWD), Khalifa University, Herriot Watt and BITS-Pilani. These will showcase their innovative projects to the Microsoft judging panel, and a winner will be announced amongst them. Three finalist teams will be chosen, each per competition category, and out of these, one will be awarded as a "top team". All the three finalist teams will travel to Bahrain to represent the UAE at the Pan Arab Finals taking place between 31 May-3 June.

This year's Imagine Cup will continue featuring the three main competitions - Innovation, Games and World Citizenship. The cash prize awards will also stay the same from last year's competition in each category - first place receives US$50,000; second place receives US$10,000; and third place receives US$5,000. The challenges are: Pitch Video Challenge requires students to record a three to five minute video with the team to pitch their project. Project Blueprint Challenge requires students to dig deep into their thinking and deliver a written project proposal covering the end-users, requirements, scenarios and business model.

User Experience Challenge is aimed at encouraging teams to focus on transformative user experiences. The teams will have to show the user flow, wireframes and a visual target for how the software will look on screen.

This year the challenges are better aligned to the three major competition themes of Games, Innovation, and World Citizenship with the introduction of Paths. The three SDL contests - the Pitch Video Challenge, the Project Blueprint Challenge, and the User Experience Challenge - now have rules and submission requirements tailored to each competition theme.

Michael Mansour, Head of Apps and Innovation, Microsoft Gulf said, "The future of technology is heavily premised on stirring innovation. Through Imagine Cup, Microsoft continues to encourage young students to utilize their imagination and creativity for innovative technological advancements that can further address real-world issues. Imagine Cup compliments Microsoft's commitment to create social and economic opportunity through programmes and products that can transform education, foster local innovation, drive future prosperity and enable jobs and opportunities within UAE and worldwide."

Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world's premier technology programme and competition for students to learn, build and compete with innovative tools, platform and services.
In addition to providing a platform for students to demonstrate and share their next great technologies, Imagine Cup focuses in preparing these students to be young entrepreneurs in the global marketplace. Through the Microsoft BizSpark programme, Imagine Cup participants can launch start up businesses in their communities and across the Web.

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