There is no shortage of brilliant minds the world over and what often lacks is an avenue for them to channel their ideas and bring them to fruition. There is also no shortage of problems unique to each region, that can be solved using locally engineered technology. So far most of the biggest movers and shakers in the tech scene have simply seen a need and worked towards solving it. They have required help from other operators in the tech world especially when starting out. Help in terms of grants as well as mentorship from global experts.

One such avenue that nudges students to realize their vision is Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, a global competition where students submit their ideas for a chance to make it to the very top.  Imagine Cup is now in its 15th year, having engaged over 2 Million participants over the years. These are students who believe in their vision and have used the competition as a springboard toward actualization.

An initiative like this solves more problems than one. Giving students a chance to works towards transforming societies as well as providing jobs for your youth for example. It pushes participants to habitually give it their best, hence building job critical skills like demoing and pitching. So that even those who do not make it to the top are still left with the benefits of the culture of hard work, team building and competitive drive. Still very beneficial in life if you ask me.

How does the competition work?

Imagine Cup participants work in teams of upto 3 students who are required to build an original technology based concept, build it and submit. As mentioned earlier, the entry could be in any area that you feel can do with a workable technology concept. It could be in health, agriculture, energy or manufacturing for example. I tend to feel that it is open ended really as far as ideas are concerned – dream it, make a plan, build it and submit. Surprise yourself, surprise Microsoft and maybe even surprise the world by unleashing a product that nobody could have thought of.

In the past Imagine Cup has been about cloud but this time round, in tune with technological advancement, there are 3 more categories to work with – Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Mixed Reality.

Best teams in their countries qualify and proceed to regional finals, and then the regional finalists will meet at the global finals where an absolute winner will be picked.

The use of Azure is a requirement for all submissions.

What’s in it for winners?

A lot. First place winner gets to win a cash prize of 85,000 USD, an Azure grant and a mentoring session with Satya Nadella who is very passionate on new ideas and mentorship. Second place gets 15,000 USD cash, and an Azure grant. The two teams are also eligible for one Imagine Cup award of 15,000 USD and that means that one team could win upto 100,000 USD.

Kenyan students, go on and submit that idea here before the 26th of April.

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