Boasting a year-on-year average growth rate of 10.9 percent over the past decade, China has the world’s fastest-growing economy that is largely fuelled by primary industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and mining. With the Chinese economy reaching the critical juncture of transformation and development, the country has to ensure its growth remains sustainable by driving development through innovation to improve the economic structure and achieve overall modernisation.

As a sign of commitment to the development of Nanjing, Microsoft China held the Microsoft YouthSpark Fair from 29 to 30 April in the city. Combining several key Microsoft corporate social responsibility initiatives—YouthSpark Live, Hour of Code, Imagine Cup and BizSpark—the event provided Chinese youth a platform to collaborate, compete and share ideas on developing tomorrow’s innovations with today’s technology. Over 400 students from more than 20 universities and over 10 nonprofits participated.

“Through events such as the Microsoft YouthSpark Fair, we want to reinforce our commitment to helping young people, especially in urbanised areas like Nanjing, narrow the opportunity gap and realise their potential and aspirations,” said Xie Enwei, General Manager of Marketing and Vice President, Microsoft China, who opened the event with a keynote speech.

More than 10 Nanjing government officials attended the event. To further demonstrate their support and recognition for the YouthSpark Fair, the local government decided to co-host the event and share half the expenses.

YouthSpark Live
YouthSpark Live, an event series that coaches young people on career planning and designing entrepreneurial projects, was jointly conducted with the Nanjing University of Science and Technology Student Club.

A discussion panel was held where youth panellists, YouthSpark beneficiaries and partners shared how they have been able to start their own businesses with the cost savings and efficiency that technology brings. One young entrepreneur was a 22-year-old mother, who launched an online store after learning IT skills at a workshop offered by Microsoft Youth Community Center in Kunming. She is now able to run a small business while taking care of her baby.

A workshop was held on the spot, offering hands-on experience in creating business plans for a real social enterprise, Hongdandan, which is working to develop an online audio library for people with visual difficulties. The online library is hosted on Microsoft Azure.

WeSpeakCode
As part of Asia Pacific’s WeSpeakCode campaign, 127 youth participants successfully completed an hour of code, writing a total of 10,287 lines. Excited to learn more about programming, the participants pledged to become advocates for the Hour of Code, helping to share how much fun and easy it is with others.

2014 Imagine Cup China Final

One of the key highlights of the YouthSpark Fair was the 2014 Imagine Cup China Final, where finalists showcased an array of remarkable entries that ranged from immersive mobile games to sophisticatedly designed software. This year’s contestants distinguished themselves from those of previous years, as they honed and advanced their skills to deliver innovations that have the potential to be commercialised.

World Citizenship Category Winner: Imagine the World

Persephone is an emergency communication system consisting of Persephone (a Windows 8 app), Persenet (a non-realtime, meshed, distributed network) and Perseboard (an information centre deploying Windows Azure cloud server), enabling communication in the absence of traditional telecommunication base stations especially in disaster-affected areas.

Innovation Category Winner: WuLuo Studio

Developed by Wuhan University students primarily for couples in long-distance relationships, the smartphone app Sweetie allows couples to chat, play interactive games with each other, document sweet moments and track each other’s location. The app first became a hit at the Computer School of Wuhan University where the developers are studying, and has received more than 60,000 downloads.

Game Category Winner: Sogoal
‘Lost Cold’ is a two-player action puzzle featuring a poignant story of the two protagonists, Lost and Cold, and their attempts to recover Cold’s missing voice. They possess unique capabilities, such as the ability to manipulate time and summon clouds.

BizSpark Demo

At the demo, start-up representatives showed how free Microsoft resources have helped them in running their new ventures and achieve their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Jian Zhang, a Partner Business Evangelist, further took the opportunity to showcase the latest Microsoft cloud services and devices, which include Office 365, the new Microsoft Surface products, as well as a range of Windows applications. At a booth, attendees got to experience these devices, plus their features and benefits first-hand.

Besides showcasing the technologies, Microsoft provided mentoring sessions for youth who wanted to learn how to identify their passions, pursue their careers and score well in interviews.

“We want to reinforce our commitment to helping young people, especially in urbanised areas like Nanjing, narrow the opportunity gap and realise their potential and aspirations.”

- Xie Enwei, General Manager of Marketing and Vice President, Microsoft China