The 2011 Microsoft Imagine Cup Finals took place yesterday from 16:00-19:00 EST (NYC Local Time) 8pm to 11pm GMT you can watch a video recording of the stream here.

The “World Festival Awards Ceremony” will be held at the David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in downtown New York City!  The event capped a six-day celebration of technology that featured more than 400 students from 70 countries.

Microsoft had a dedicated Social Media Team at the Microsoft Imagine Cup,  made up of Microsoft Student Partners, the team of 25 were tweeting, blogging and streaming as much as possible about every aspect of the finals. To see all 25 Microsoft Student Partners on the Social Media Team tweeting, check out our Twitter List!

MSPIC

For more information on the Imagine Cup see the dedicated Official Imagine Cup Facebook Page which has been made available for things Imagine Cup!

So what is the Imagine Cup?

The Imagine Cup 2011 consisted of Student projects that tackle global problems such as improving road and fire safety, eradicating poverty, and creating a more sustainable environment.

The Imagine Cup is a awesome event and I have to state I was tremendously inspired, enthused and excited by the events of yesterday. Over 350,000 students globally took part in the competition over the past months, leading to the Worldwide Finals in New York City July 8-13. The UK managed to secure two places to the World Finals represented by two teams Project Ove, from the University of Manchester, competing in the Software Design Competition and Cycling into Trees, from the University of York, competing in the Embedded Development Competition. Project Ove were unfortunate to be knocked out in the first round in New York however Kevin Pfister team Cycling into Trees made it to the Final Six and the grand final see more details below!

Pfister

Ireland’s Team Hermes won the competition’s premier Software Design category and $25,000 (U.S.) with their project that combined embedded technology, mobile devices and cloud computing technology to change driving habits and reduce road deaths.

teamhermes

"Thank you Imagine Cup for the opportunity to develop a solution to address this global, serious problem of road traffic accidents,” said team member Aine Conaghan as they collected the Imagine Cup trophy. “Initially we were inspired due to the fact of this problem in Ireland. The more research we carried out, we realized ‘yeah, we're going to make an impact globally.’”

The members of Team Hermes said traffic accidents are a huge problem in Sligo, the North Western Irish city where they go to University. "Initially we wanted to do something to improve road safety," said team member Calum Cawley. "So many people are dying we had to do something about it."

Women in Technology

It was encouraging to see so many female contestants at the Imagine Cup World Final, the more women we see enter science, technology, engineering and math fields will help fill the shortage of viable candidates in the tech sector, encouraging more females into the sector will bring a new wave of ideas and perspectives. Over Sixty women participated in the Imagine Cup Finals, double last’s year numbers. Those female students can help inspire more women to take an interest in tech and enter future competitions. 

Allison Watson, corporate vice president of the U.S. Marketing and Operations group at Microsoft, hopes the Imagine Cup continues to get more women to attend. On Sunday Watson led a panel discussion where she invited women competitors to talk about the issues and challenges surrounding getting more women into STEM fields and to inspire them to be role models for others. “(We need) to bring the voice and stories of the women competitors to others," she said. "The more women you can get here, the more you can create a community of people who can support each other.”

Role models can make a huge difference in getting more women interested in technology careers, which can be intimidating, so well done to team Hermes! it shows that the Imagine Cup is a great platform for female students, noting that even the Imagine Cup name is approachable: "We want people to dream.”

Imagine Cup 2011 Award Highlights and Winners

Team Hermes – Winners Software Design 2011

Ireland’s Team Hermes won this year’s Software Design competition with a project that combined embedded technology, mobile devices and cloud computing technology to change driving habits and reduce road deaths.
Ireland’s Team Hermes won this year’s Software Design competition with a project that combined embedded technology, mobile devices and cloud computing technology to change driving habits and reduce road deaths.

The team developed a smart device that can plug into any car made after 2000, Conaghan said. It uploads driving information to the cloud and gives the driver a report on their behavior. "Research has shown that educating the drivers reduces fatalities on the roads," she said.

The team used a number of Microsoft technologies to create their project including Silverlight, Azure, and SQL Server. "It's all compatible," said James McNamara, also a team member. "It's a great system to work in."

Looking ahead, Team Hermes wants to get their project out into the world to make an impact on roads worldwide. "We want to develop a sustainable project that not only saves lives but generates enough income to bring the product forward and establish a mass user group and a mass community, because the more users we have the more lives we can save," McNamara said.

NTHUCS - Winners Embedded Development 2011

Taiwan’s Team NTHUCS sets up their display booth at the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals. The team won the Embedded Development contest with project RIGHT!! This Way, which computes the safest fire escape routes in real time as detected by a wireless sensor network.
Taiwan’s Team NTHUCS sets up their display booth at the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals. Taiwan’s Team NTHUCS won the Embedded Development contest and $25,000 with their project RIGHT!! This Way, which computes the safest fire escape routes in real time as detected by a wireless sensor network, while the three winners from the Game Design category all focused on some aspect of environmental sustainability.

Signum Games - Winners Games Design Windows/Xbox 2011


Brazil’s Team Signum Games demos their winning Game Design – Windows/Xbox entry Brazil’s Team Signum Games demos their winning Game Design Windows/Xbox entry "UCan," a strategy game that invites players to solve urban problems involving health, education and the environment. One member of Brazil’s Signum Games team that won the Windows/Xbox category of Game Design shouted at the crowd, “If we can, you can!” Team Signum’s Fernanda Fonteles said she was amazed her team came out on top. “It's unbelievable," she said. "We saw the other projects – they are very strong.” The team’s game was inspired by volunteers who helped clean up their home city of Curitiba, Brazil. "It's very important to bring the top prize to our university," Fonteles said.

Geeklogic - Winners Games Design Mobile 2011

Team Geeklogic from France won the Game Design – Mobile contest with
Team Geeklogic from France won the Game Design – Mobile contest with "Brainergy," a Windows Phone 7 puzzle game in which the player has to solve different challenges based on renewable energy.I had the pleasure of meeting the team earlier in the Month at the FDG2011 conference and the game was superb so well done! As France’s Geekologic collected its award in the Game Design – Mobile category, a team member thanked the crowd and urged them
“to continue this work and we will really make this world a better place.”

Cellardoor - Winners Games Design  Web 2011


Members of Poland’s Team Cellardoor demo

In the Games Design web category, Winners were Poland’s Team Cellardoor demo "The Book of Elm". The game,  won the Game Design – Web category, it illustrates the importance of taking care of the environment in everyday life through the interactive story of Elm, a creature on a quest to fix the mistakes done by people around the world.

HOMERUN - Winners Windows Phone 2011


In the Windows Phone 7 category, Korea’s Team HOMERUN took first place with Peekaboo, an application designed to help family members communicate with each other through a treasure-hunt game.
In the Windows Phone 7 category, Korea’s Team HOMERUN took first place with Peekaboo, an application designed to help family members communicate with each other through a treasure-hunt game.

Other winners

Alaniarides - Winners Interoperability Challenge 2011

Greece’s Team Alaniarides won the Interoperability Challenge with their Touring Machine, which offers adults and children a new kind of cultural experience

M.N.A – Winners Digital Media 2011

Romania’s Team M.N.A. won the Digital Media category.

Jean-Sébastien Duchene Winner IT Challenge 2011

France’s Jean-Sébastien Duchene won the IT Challenge.

BizSpark_Overview_Logo       StudentsToBusiness_Overview_Logo

During the ceremony, Microsoft also unveiled plans to launch a three-year, $3 million competitive grant program to help recipients realize their vision of solving the world’s toughest problems  and announced that Imagine Cup finalists will be eligible to apply for grants that include a combination of cash, software, training, consulting and other support via the Microsoft BizSpark programme. Microsoft will announce details about the grant program and application process later this summer.and BizSpark membership packages.

“The innovators, entrepreneurs and humanitarians who compete in the Imagine Cup have developed an inspiring spectrum of projects, raising the bar higher and higher each year,” said S. Somasegar, senior vice president, Developer Division, Microsoft. “We are in awe of the students’ solutions for addressing social and real-world challenges, and want to help them take their projects to the next level with the financial, technical and business support they need to change the world.”

At the awards ceremony, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and activist and actress Eva Longoria also expressed their awe of the students’ tech skills and passion to change the world.

When the finals kicked off last Friday, economist Jeffrey Sachs gave the students a homework assignment: saving the world. “You don't just leave here with the Imagine Cup and think your work is done – you have a lot of work ahead,” he said.

Many of the participants hope to meet that challenge by forming their own companies. Dennis Anderson, a professor of management and information technology at St. Francis College in New York and longtime advisor to the Imagine Cup, said ‘the event serves as a launching pad for many students.(The Imagine Cup) opens up career pathways for many of the finalists,’ said Anderson, who also served as one of the judges in this year’s Software Design category. "This is definitely more than a competition. They are working very hard to start new businesses.”

‘Students aren’t merely seeing dollar signs with plans to form their own companies,’ said Mark Hindsbo, vice president of Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Evangelism Group in the U.S. "I haven't heard one of the teams say they want to make money," he said. "They want to make a difference in the world."

The New Zealand know a thing or two about success after the Imagine Cup. Two members from OneBuzz participated in last year’s competition, where they finished third in the Software Design category. Their project, called OneBeep, transmits educational data over radio waves to impoverished communities.

Vinny Lohan said that after last year’s Imagine Cup, he and his OneBeep teammates formed their own company to license the technology. Since then they’ve attracted the attention of Icehouse, one of the top 10 incubation firms in the world, which is providing the young company with funding and support. Today they are conducting field tests in South America, and Lohan, the company’s CEO, said they’re six months from global deployment.  He credited the Imagine Cup and Microsoft’s BizSpark program with getting their company off the ground. "(The Imagine Cup) is the beginning, not the end of the journey," he said. "The Imagine Cup turns students into entrepreneurs."

In New York City, it appeared many students were already on their way. Our very own Kevin Pfister, a one-man team called Cycling Into Trees who represented the U.K. in the Embedded Development category is now well on this journey.

Kevinintro

Kevin’s Child Sleep Safe project uses a mixture of embedded hardware, software and home automation systems to reduce crib death numbers by monitoring babies while sleeping. “It represents the next generation of baby monitoring,” he said.

Kevin has already built a working prototype of Child Sleep Safe and presented it to Mothercare, the U.K.’s largest specialist retailer for parents. “They gave us a good response,” Pfister said. “I’m going to move ahead with it.”

The Peoples Choice Awards

Eva Longoria told the students ‘she was honoured to support and shine a light on the finalists’ work, which she had a chance to review earlier in the day. She called out specific teams like Thailand’s NewKrean, who responded to a devastating flood in their country with a project that will help rescue workers find victims after a disaster. Before leaving the stage, Eva Longoria told the students ‘they were the next generation of leaders who were going to give us all a better future'.’

She then announced the winner of the People’s Choice Award, Bangladesh’s Team Rapture, whose project, ThirdEye, is a smartphone device for the visually impaired.

teamrapture

Earlier, Bloomberg encouraged the students to work together as they tackle the world’s toughest problems, just like the diverse residents of New York City do. It will take collaboration to eliminate poverty and illness, combat global warming, and preserve the environment, he said. He then held up his friends Bill and Melinda Gates as two people who were truly changing the world and challenged the finalists to follow in their footsteps. He closed with an invitation for all the students to make New York City their future home.

So will you be the next Imagine Cup HERO!

The number of students competing or the number of countries represented, the Imagine Cup 2011 was the biggest event yet. However we need your help as parents, teachers, academics and faculties to help lead students to go into science, technology engineering fields (known as STEM), where there is projected to be a major shortfall of job candidates in the coming years.so let's go from 350,000 competitors to 35 million people.

So if your a UK School teacher, FE or HE academic, I cannot think of a  better way to inspire students so think about the Imagine Cup for future challenges or curricula competitions! We simply need to inspire more students to enter technical fields as STEM is critical in driving the worlds economy.

So I hope to see your entries for next year competition which will take place in Sydney, Australia. If you would like more details or information relating to the UK entry requirements simply get in touch!