The Imagine Cup Grants program supports a number of winning teams solutions to go to market and realize their potential to solve a critical global problem. I just attended the Imagine Cup Grants session during one of the learning session at the worldwide finals in Sydney. Here is a quick summary here for you.

In short, the program offers you funding and support for your Imagine Cup project. You receive the money and Microsoft will support you for the next 3 years. During the program you get connected to different venture capitalists, NGO’s and several different influencers who can help you take your solution to the next level.

All Imagine Cup 2012 worldwide finalists can apply, you don’t have to be in the top 3 teams to apply. You can send it your applications from 10th of July until the end of August!

It’s not just about the money

During the session last years finalist team OaSys shared their experiences with the grants program. It was interesting to hear that the team originally applied mostly because of the financial support, but the support the got in addition to the funding was invaluable. Bu yeah.. the team applied for $58,000 and actually received $75,000 for their solution.

Tips & tricks for applying

There were a couple of tips and tricks shared to during the session, so I decided to share them up here

  • You can and should work with your local Microsoft staff, we’re not punishing you for getting support. We want to make sure you get all the support you need for your solution.
  • You will need to send in a application in English and a 2 minute video explaining your solution. This is a very important part of the application because it’s might be the only time the judges will see your application working. Check out last years Lifelens-video as a reference.
  • It’s very important to define your teams strengths and weaknesses! When applying for a grant, make sure you specify where your teams needs help so that Microsoft can connect you with the right people when you receive your grant.
  • It’s important that your application has a strong social impact. The grant program will be very strict on this, so make sure you explain how are you making a social impact.
  • Communicate and ask for support from Microsoft. You will need to report to Microsoft every 6 months on your progress. Keep communicating actively with the Microsoft staff telling them about your progress, challenges and asks for support. This way you’ll get the most out of the program.

A few more questions…

AppCampus-logo_160pxCan I apply for an Imagine Cup grant and apply for funding from somewhere else, for example AppCampus? The grant program is created to help you succeed and take your solution to the market, so we encourage you to apply for all the funding and support that you can!

What if my team members and size changes? There is no limitation for the team size and you can add new members to your team. You will need to describe why these team members are added and what kind of additional value do they bring to your team.

Summary

Not only that you get funding, we like money, right? But you also get support from Microsoft and several different partners. Microsoft can connect you to the people who can help you with your solution, let it be venture capitalists, NGO’s or industry experts. Of course you get a lot of visibility through this program

I’ve seen such enthusiasm and excitement amongst the teams in the finals. That energy and attitude is the most important thing when you apply for a grant!