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Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle to visit the Microsoft headquarters and take part in their annual  Imagine Cup, the world’s leading student technology competition.

Thirty-four student teams representing 34 countries competed for the grand prize, $50,000 towards building out their companies and in turn, their dreams. The winners were judged and awarded by Microsoft’s CEO himself, Satya Nadella.

Who won the $50,000? Before I tell you, I’d like to share with you some of the participants. The first of the bunch is a team headed by two ladies, Team Butterfly.

Seattle, WA - Microsoft Imagine Cup
Seattle, WA – Microsoft Imagine Cup

 

Team Butterfly from Bahrain created the Nail Polish Mixer. The Nail Polish Mixer is an app that controls a machine that creates custom nail polish colors in less than 50 seconds. If you never found the right color, you can make your own! How cool is that?

Next up is Team Seven Summits from India. Seven Summits created a game called Petite. Petite is a game about the life of a woman, focusing on some key moments that happen along the way, until finally she grows into adulthood. The founder’s inspiration behind the game was his mother. As a woman growing up in India, she faced many challenges and difficulties that he didn’t think were right, so in order to bring awareness to the multitude of challenges women face, he turned the stories of his mother and countless other women and turned it into a game. But it wasn’t easy, his idea was rejected, several times. When marketing Petite to the gaming industry in India, he was turned down a countless amount of times. He was told by a number of people and investors that ‘the game would not sell’ because the gaming industry is predominantly  male. Refusing to let this  stop him, he decided to continue building the game, until 6 months later, he was finally finished. And today, he got the chance to meet with Microsoft and countless other vendors. It just comes to show, if you believe in something, never EVER give up. There is a purpose for you and a place for your ideas!

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Team AfriGal Tech, founders of mDex, an app that detects sickle cell disease.

This story was one of the many student groups who brought with them incredible and inspiring stories of truth, purpose and integrity. Take for example Team AfriGal Tech, an all – girls team from Uganda who created mDex, an app to detect sickle cell. By using an app with an external compound lens the device is able to provide quick, easy and affordable diagnosis using artificial intelligence and pattern recognition to detect the disease. The girls have teammates and mentors supporting them.

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Former Microsoft Imagine Cup winners, Josh and Aaron Tushabem and creators of WinSenga, a handheld device that helps lower the cost of maternal care.

One of the mentors was a former Imagine Cup winner, Josh, who decided to come back to help the girls. Josh and Aaron Tushabem created WinSenga, a handheld device that can scan a pregnant woman’s womb and report information to a mobile application that recommends a course of action,  ultimately, lowering the cost of maternal care for many women in and around Africa where maternal care is costly and often deadly. In fact, did you know:

Worldwide, every minute an expectant mother dies from complications related to pregnancy or child birth: 70 percent of those deaths occur in developing countries, disproportionately in Sub-Saharan Africa. – Microsoft Youth Spark, the College Kids who Reinvented the Ultrasound

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This is why innovation and technology is important, it saves lives.

 

 

 

Microsoft supports thousands of programs that aim to help young people take action on social issues and this is just one. For information on Imagine Cup finalist and winners, see below:

2014 IMAGINE CUP CATEGORY WINNERS

Games Category:
First Place, $50,000 prize and PAX Boot Camp: Team Brainy Studio, Russia, Project: TurnOn
Second Place, $10,000 prize: Team Bomon, Korea, Project: Under Bed
Third Place, $5,000 prize: Team Illogic, Egypt, Project: Puppy in Bubble
Innovation Category:
First Place, $50,000 prize and Microsoft Ventures Boot Camp: Team Estimeet, New Zealand, Project: Estimeet
Second Place, $10,000 prize: Team Tep, Hungary, Project: Tep
Third Place, $5,000 prize: Team Butterfly, Bahrain, Project: Nail Polish Mixer
World Citizenship Category:
First Place, $50,000 prize and Microsoft YouthSpark Boot Camp: Team Eyenaemia, Australia, Project: Eyenaemia
Second Place, $10,000 prize: Team SMART crew, Taiwan, Project: Versatility of Usens: From Lab to Life
Third Place, $5,000 prize: Team Access Earth, Ireland, Project: Access Earth

WORLD CHAMPION
Imagine Cup World Champion:
Imagine Cup trophy and private meeting with Bill Gates: Team Eyenaemia
from Australia, Winner of the World Citizenship Category

 Eyenaemia is a simple, non-invasive and easily accessible screening tool for detecting anaemia, a condition marked by a deficiency of red blood cells or of hemoglobin in the blood, resulting in pallor and weariness. It’s as simple as taking a selfie!

 

Congratulations to all the winners and all those who participated in ImagineCup, wishing you well and love for all your endeavors!

 

Want more? Check out all the action through Microsoft’s Flickr Stream.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Microsoft YouthSpark is a global, company-wide initiative to connect 300 million youth with opportunities for education, entrepreneurship and employment by 2015. Microsoft is a sponsor of the coverage of event and made this visit possible. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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