Every year since 2003, Microsoft has invited students from universities to use technology to develop solutions and products that address problems and challenges around their localities through an initiative called Imagine Cup.
Now in its 15th year, Imagine Cup participants have, over the previous years, come together in teams of up to 3 students to develop an original technology project from start to finish. This involves conceptualising the idea, making a plan on how to execute it, building the project before submitting it to the Imagine Cup panel for evaluation.
“The world is eager to address two powerful issues: education and jobs for the younger generation and technology. At Microsoft, we are focused on enabling every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. The Imagine Cup Competition is anchored on this mantra and we hope that through this initaive, we will empower more young people by enabling them to showcase what they have to offer to the world,” stated Lilian Nganda, Microsoft’s Communications Manager for Sub-Sahara Africa in a media release. “Through the Imagine Cup, these issues can be addressed in a fun, positive and inspiring way for students to acquire new and critical technical, business, and team-building skills.”
As part of its 15th year anniversary, Microsoft has this year doubled the prize money from US $50,000 to 100,000.
Over the years however, the eventual winners of the contest have always been from developed countries, with last year’s winning team, X.GLU, coming from the Czech Republic.
The best African team in last year’s Imagine Cup finals was the e-Park team from Morocco which developed a web and mobile app which enables drivers to see parking spaces in real time, identify the ones which are taken, and which ones are free then direct the vehicle to the free slot. The e-Park solution also enables users to reserve the empty parking space ahead of their arrival, keeping track of the car in the parking lot and also pay for the service.
Even though it didn’t win the coveted prize, e-Park is a solution that can be applicable in almost all major urban centres, not just in Morocco. And not being crowned the overall winner won’t be the team of the team and the project.
Being a global platform and the opportunity it gives participants to showcase their ideas, African students have always been encouraged to submit their entries to Imagine Cup. And this year is no different.
The entry submission phase for Kenyan contestants opened in March 2018 while the local online finals will run from April 26 to 27, 2018, that is exactly 2 weeks from now. This will be followed by the regional online finals almost a month later on May 23 which will culminate into the global finals annoucment a week later later on June 1, 2018.
That is why as part of #ImagineCupKe, Microsoft is calling on local students to form themselves in teams of 3 members, come up with an idea then submit to the 2018 edition of the Imagine Cup contest for a chance win any of the prizes. All these in the spirit of “Dream it. Build it. Live it,” basically imagining a solution to a problem then going a step further to bring it to reality by building it, by working as a team.