I'm John Scott Tynes, your Imagine Cup Competition Manager, and it's my very great pleasure to share the following details about Imagine Cup 2013:

This year, we have three big competitions:

World Citizenship: Make an app that could change someone’s life. Pick your cause: the environment, education, health, you name it. Use technology as an agent of change.

Games: Put a smile on the face of the world. Make the next great game and see people playing it all around you on console, PC, phone, slate – wherever people play games.

Innovation: Reinvent social networks. Transform online shopping. Experience music in a new way. Do something amazing with GPS. It’s time to take that crazy idea of yours and ship it!

We also have the biggest prizes in the history of the Imagine Cup to go with them. For each competition, we'll award:

First Place: $50,000 (USD)

Second Place: $10,000 (USD)

Third Place: $5,000 (USD)

Every finalist team and their mentor will also get a free trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, to compete in the Worldwide Finals!

Why these competitions? When we look at the world of software today and where it's come in the ten years since we created the Imagine Cup, what we see is a whole new generation of people using apps to do great things on all kinds of devices. We see terrific software made by young people, like Facebook and Twitter, getting used not just for recreation but for politics, protest movements, and global issue awareness. We see people playing Angry Birds at bus stops who would never have played a game on their phone two years ago. And we realized that Imagine Cup needed to change, too.

There is no required theme this year. There's just you – you and your dreams. Because whether you want to save the planet, make the next great game, or just do something cool with technology, the door is open wide for you at Imagine Cup. I can't say it often enough: all dreams are now welcome.

I'm also excited to announce three great challenges that let you get your hands on the latest Microsoft technology and training:

The Windows 8 App Challenge will test a team’s ability to design and build a Windows Store app that takes advantage of Windows 8 features and design principles to deliver an exceptional experience on the platform.

The Windows Phone Challenge is seeking the best apps that feature startling functionality and device-focused utility, combined with a delightful Windows Phone user experience.

The Windows Azure Challenge is about getting your team started on the “next big thing” by leveraging Azure platform features to build a great web application.

 And we've boosted the prizes for our challenges as well:

First Place: $10,000 (USD)

Second Place: $5,000 (USD)

Third Place: $3,000 (USD)

Of course, every finalist team and their mentor will also get a free trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, to compete in the Worldwide Finals!

We've got even more to announce in the weeks ahead. This year, we want to give you all kinds of ways to create, learn, compete, and win. To get the latest news straight from the source, please register at our site to get our email newsletter, Like us on Facebook, or Follow us on Twitter. You'll find me there, ready to talk about Imagine Cup and all the great stuff we've got going on.

To all you ladies and gentlemen around the planet and all the ships at sea: Imagine Cup 2013 is officially on. Let's make some magic.

John Scott Tynes
Imagine Cup Competition Manager
Microsoft Academic Engagement