Microsoft and BT Sponsor Budding Software Superstars
Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator helps students turn award-winning concepts into marketable products.
LONDON — Jan. 16, 2007 — Microsoft Corp. and BT have joined forces to help some of the brightest young minds from around the world transform creative ideas into working products in the 2007 Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator. Over the next two weeks, six student teams from six countries will participate in an intensive technical and business training workshop where they will be coached in the transforming of their software applications and ideas for solving a real-world problem into business reality. The teams — finalists in the 2006 Microsoft® Imagine Cup Software Design Competition — were asked to “Imagine a world where technology enables us to live healthier lives.” The future entrepreneurs will unveil their concepts during a reception at the BT Tower in London on Jan. 26, 2007.
The Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator challenges students to imagine a better world enabled by their own genius, creativity and energy and to provide opportunities for participation in the future of technology.
“These outstanding student developers are poised to shape the future of software and information technology with their Imagine Cup projects,” said Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of the Developer & Platform Evangelism Group at Microsoft. “In the Innovation Accelerator program, we help the students combine their technical skills with practical know-how so that they can create a business plan, attract investors and launch a successful product.”
Now in its second year, the Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator is a joint project from Microsoft and BT. It is a prize awarded to the best software design teams from the Microsoft Imagine Cup with technical support and business coaching to create the must-have technology and communications applications of the future. This year’s teams — composed of 21 university students from Brazil, China, Croatia, Germany, Italy and Norway — will work closely with technical and business experts to refine their ideas in a hothouse-type environment at the Microsoft Innovation Centre in Reading, U.K.
“The Innovation Accelerator is a tremendous showcase for the creativity, energy and potential of today’s young people to use technology in the service of human needs,” said Sinclair Stockman, chief science officer at BT. “The teams participating in this event are setting an example not only for those who might be interested in becoming technology innovators, but anyone who might want to have a positive impact on their community and the world. We are very pleased to co-sponsor this event with Microsoft.”
The Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition and consists of a number of technology challenges. Teams that competed in the 2006 finals, held in India this past August, developed innovative projects that offer practical applicability and present concrete solutions to real-world problems. From an initial pool of more than 65,000 students from 100 countries, 181 students in 72 teams representing 42 countries competed during the weeklong program, with six teams in the software design competition proceeding to the 2007 Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator. The teams worked on a wide variety of projects in keeping with the overarching theme “Imagine a world where technology enables us to live healthier lives”:
• Brazil, Trivial Team, from the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
vEye (Virtual Eye) gives the blind information about their environment by using radio frequency identification tags located in cities or commercial malls.
• China, Frontfree Studio - MISG, from Beijing University of Technology
Project Helen is an intelligent, entertaining healthcare system that includes video games.
• Croatia, EKG.Net, from the Faculty of Organisation and Informatics, Varazdin, University of Zagreb
The SmartECG monitors a patient’s heart rate and transmits data to an application located on a PDA, raising an alarm and providing GPS coordinates if an irregular signal is noted.
• Germany, Trailblazers, from the Hamburg University of Applied Science
Trailblazers — a Pathfinding Community — is a navigation system to enable people with physical disabilities to move in a barrier-free manner.
• Italy, Even.ctor, from the Polytechnic of Turin and University of Turin
Hello World improves the doctor-patient relationship whereby the doctor can access important information unreported by the patient.
• Norway, Team NTNU, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
MediWatch integrates third-party health-monitoring devices through mobile devices such as Smartphones to distribute critical information to health professionals and families.
“Exploring the latest Microsoft technologies during the Imagine Cup competition has given me the knowledge and expertise to explore new concepts and bring them to life,” said Augusto César Pires Spinelli of the Trivial Team (Brazil). “With the development expertise and business planning tips that we gain from Innovation Accelerator, our team hopes that our software design will quickly go from labs to market.”
Microsoft and BT are jointly investing in the Innovation Accelerator to demonstrate their respective commitment to fostering student innovation and helping the next generation of software developers realize their dream projects. The students will receive in-depth training on the Microsoft and BT platforms and network assets, as well as coaching on running a startup business, developing a real business plan and attracting venture capital.
The Innovation Accelerator is not a competition — all the participants are considered “winners.” They retain the intellectual property rights and control over their projects, although teams with the most promising ideas may be offered the opportunity to continue working with BT and Microsoft to develop them further. In addition, the teams will gain exposure to the venture capital community, which will also be represented at the event.
These students join the elite ranks of Imagine Cup winners who have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs:
• The 2005 Russian team has incorporated its Innovation Accelerator project OmniMusic into Musigy Inc. (http://www.musigy.com) and filed patents in the U.S. and Russia. Musigy enables musicians to plug their instrument into a computer and jam with their friends over the Internet as if they were in the same room.
• The 2005 Greek team received funding from the Greek government to pursue its Innovation Accelerator project for translating sign language into speech, and vice versa, by utilizing a wireless, custom-made armband. The team has been working with the Royal National Institute for Deaf People on the project.
• Tu Nguyen from the 2003 U.S. team turned his Hotpad invention into a company he is the vice president of called DocCenter, http://www.doccenterinc.com, which now employs 27 people and has three core products on the market. The Hotpad is a program that runs on a handheld PDA and allows waiters to take orders in one language and send them to the kitchen chefs in another.
BT (NYSE:BT) is one of the world’s leading providers of communications solutions and services operating in more than 170 Countries. Its principal activities include networked IT services, local, national and international telecommunications services, and higher-value broadband and internet products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, Openreach, BT Retail and BT Wholesale.
In the year ended 31 March 2006, BT Group’s revenue was £19,514 million with profit before taxation of £2,040 million.
BT is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. For more information, visit www.bt.com/aboutbt.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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