Microsoft Imagine Cup Grants Awarded to Students to Help Create Businesses and Nonprofits Aimed at Global Change Students from Croatia, Ecuador, Jordan and the United States receive funding and other support in the first year of the Microsoft Imagine Cup Grants program.

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting today in Davos, Switzerland, Microsoft Corp. announced the winners of the inaugural year of the Imagine Cup Grants program, a three-year, $3 million competitive grant program for student technology and social entrepreneurs. Grant recipients include Team Apptenders from Croatia, Team Falcon Dev from Ecuador, Team OaSys from Jordan and Team Lifelens from the United States. The teams invented solutions that address issues, such as accessibility, health and education, and use technologies that include Kinect for Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Bing Maps and more.

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Winners of the grants were finalists at the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals, a global competition now in its 10th year in which students use technology to solve the world's toughest problems. The Imagine Cup Grants program is focused on providing opportunities for young people by helping Imagine Cup competitors create a business or nonprofit to bring the benefits of their ideas to the world.

The grant packages include $75,000 (U.S.) for each team, as well as software, cloud computing services, solution provider support, premium Microsoft BizSpark account benefits and access to local resources such as the Microsoft Innovation Centers. Microsoft will also connect grant recipients with its network of investors, nongovernmental organization partners and business partners.

"The Imagine Cup Grants program showcases young people's ingenuity, entrepreneurial passion and real potential to solve tough real-world problems," said Brad Smith, executive vice president, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft. "Today's young people will become tomorrow's entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators and will build a better future for all of us if we give them the right opportunities."

During the World Economic Forum meeting, the captains from the winning teams joined Smith, as well as Bill Gates and other guests including Nancy Lublin, CEO of DoSomething.org, for a roundtable discussion on opportunity for youth. Participants discussed Microsoft's corporate citizenship focus on bridging the opportunity divide — an emergent gap between young people who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. The group discussed the critical role young people will play in building the future and the challenges they will face without the right education, skills and support. The Imagine Cup Grants program is one way Microsoft is helping to create tangible connections between young people and job, career and life opportunities that will help them succeed.

Imagine Cup Grants Award Winners

  • Team Apptenders, Croatia. Team members: Ivan Antonic, Ivan Borko, Karmela Bresan and Dominik Tomicevic. Project description: KiDnect is a Kinect-based solution for on-premise and remote physical therapy for children. This software has the ability to monitor a child's exercises to ensure they are being completed correctly, and then it provides statistical analysis to the therapist. Team video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF4kQvUKwj4
  • Team Falcon Dev, Ecuador. Team members: Jose Vicente Anilema Guadalupe, Gerardo Francisco Perez Layedra, Henry Javier Paca Quinaluiza and Juan Jose Morales Ruiz. Project description: SkillBox is an affordable solution to help children who are hearing impaired by translating audio received from a teacher in a classroom into sign language. A wireless headset captures the sound and sends it to the computer, and then SkillBox shows the corresponding sign for the word or phrase. Team video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtuFEJ_esJo
  • Team OaSys, Jordan. Team members: Hani AbuHuwaij, Monir Abu Hilal, Mohammad Azzam, Mohammad Saleh and Yousef Wadi. Project description: Horizon is a software and hardware system that allows people who do not have use of their hands or arms to use a computer. Specifically, it tracks head movements and translates these movements into mouse movements. Users are able to have full control of a computer and cellphone, browse the Internet, type, and connect with ease at a low cost. Team video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHP67hrhEWs
  • Team Lifelens, United States. Team members: Tristan Gibeau, Cy Khormaee, Wilson To, Jason Wakizaka and Helena Xu. Project description: Lifelens is an innovative point-of-care tool to diagnose malaria using an augmented Windows Phone application. The project addresses the unacceptably high child-mortality rates caused by the lack of detection and availability of treatment of malarial diseases. Team video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoojwDhLVzE

The winning teams were selected from a pool of more than 50 applicants that competed in the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals last year in New York. A judging panel of industry experts with knowledge spanning technology, venture capitalism, software development, startup culture and the nonprofit sector ranked each team based on specific criteria, including project impact and viability and team quality and motivation. The judges included the following:

Microsoft will work with the grant recipients to tailor their individual support depending on the progress each team has made so far with its project. The timing for each team to launch its solution will vary as they work toward starting up businesses and nonprofit organizations.

About Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Imagine Cup, which will be celebrated at the worldwide finals in Sydney, Australia, July 6–10. Students ages 16 and older are eligible to register and compete in Imagine Cup 2012 by visiting the Imagine Cup website at http://www.imaginecup.com. In addition to the Software Design and Game Design: Xbox and Windows competitions, categories include Windows Phone Challenge, Windows Azure Challenge, IT Challenge, Windows Metro App Style Challenge and Kinect Fun Labs Challenge. Last year, more than 350,000 students from 183 countries registered to compete for cash and other prizes.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Imagine Cup Grants Program Judges Quote Sheet

Akhtar Badshah, senior director of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft

"Microsoft's goal for the Imagine Cup Grants program is to find innovative ways to provide opportunities for youth and to empower them to become social entrepreneurs and technology innovators."

Peter Cowhey, dean, Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Communications and Technology Policy, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies: University of California, San Diego

"As we look into the heart of the 21st century, the role of international collaboration and relations is becoming more and more essential. And contributions from civil society to the challenges once tackled primarily by government programs are of growing importance. Imagine Cup and the Imagine Cup Grants program are a fantastic case study in these dynamics because, while each team represents their own country, they also are inspired by and collaborate with students and teams from across the world in a way that goes far beyond government programs."

Tim Draper, founder and managing director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

"Succeeding in business is no longer about geography — it's about bringing together a great idea, a great product, a great business plan and a great pitch. The playing field for competing in the world today has been fundamentally leveled — and that new reality is reflected in the diversity of the Imagine Cup Grant recipients."

Debra Dunn, advisor to Social Ventures, Skoll Foundation

"One of the keys to a successful new business is mentorship. Getting to know the Imagine Cup, I have been excited to learn about the integral role that mentors play in the competition, and I look forward to collaborating with Microsoft to help with mentorship for these Imagine Cup Grants recipients as they start their journey in the world of business."

Edward G. Happ, global chief information officer of International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, chairman of NetHope

"As a judge for Imagine Cup for several years, I've been repeatedly moved by the passion and creativity of these students to change the world with technology. Within this grant process, it's been especially exciting to see how even the mashing together of existing technologies can yield something new and innovative."

Zeev Klein, general partner, Landmark Ventures

"In my work with social innovation, I'm constantly reminded of the balance between developing broad solutions for a targeted group and providing targeted solutions for a broad group. With the Imagine Cup Grants, I was impressed to see that the finalist projects really reflected both ends of the spectrum, and I believe that the transformation of the populations served by each project will be profound."

Dan'l Lewin, corporate vice president, Strategic and Emerging Business Development, Microsoft

"Students have incredible enthusiasm and see the world as a limitless place. I trust and believe that the broader implications of what these students are doing will make the world a better place."

Jeff Raikes, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

"Every day I have the opportunity to see extraordinary solutions to global problems — many from people with decades of experience in their respective fields.  I was genuinely impressed with the ideas, energy, enthusiasm and quality that the Imagine Cup teams delivered with their solutions and can't wait to see the eventual output of their projects."

Ann Winblad, managing director, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners

"Helping entrepreneurs harness their skills for good is an important part of social innovation. Whether it's diagnosing malaria with a phone, enabling new innovations in physical therapy or helping the disabled better engage with their world, it has been an honor to get to know these budding social entrepreneurs and contribute in some small way to a success that will help change the world."

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.



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