Every day, students push themselves to develop their skills and build their futures. Through Imagine Cup contests students are not just inspired – they are driven to compete, to learn, to master.Our Imagine Cup Grant programme, managed by Microsoft YouthSpark, awards cash, software and access to resources to a select number of Imagine Cup World Finalists who are ready to take the next step and bring their project to market. We choose projects that are poised to make a difference in the world by addressing a social problem in areas such as health, the environment and human rights.
All 2013 World Finalist teams who competed in St. Petersburg, Russia, with a project that focused on social good were invited to apply for this year’s grant programme. A panel of external judges have selected the following Imagine Cup 2013 Grant Winners:Grand Prize Winner - $100,000: Team OHS, Taiwan Team OHS created Omni Hearing Solution, a Windows Phone application that is affordable, easy-to-set-up and effective, ensuring everyone access to full hearing ability. OHS detects which sounds are out of one's hearing range, and modifies them for one to hear, allowing them to reconnect with the world. OHS can work with any earphone so users do not have to acquire any customized device. All they have to do is download the app and go through a set of simple hearing tests on the phone. Through this simple test, OHS helps users identify what their hearing difficulties are and creates customized settings to modify sounds that are out of hearing range to improve sound quality.$50,000 Winner: Team Confufish, Australia Team Confufish is changing the way Australia distributes food to those in need. Through Foodbank Local, a multiplatform mobile application, this team created a way to match local supply to local demand. This helps connect those individuals and businesses making donations with the groups in need, ensuring leftover food can be donated efficiently and without going to waste.$50,000 Winner: Team RUOK, Ireland This team from Ireland created RUOK, an engaging TV application that provides support to elderly people living independently. By connecting RUOK to the TV, users can interact with others through Skype, access exercise programmes and receive important notifications from their home alarm systems, heart rate monitors, medication reminders and more.$50,000 Winner: Team Dora, Slovenia Eliminating the need for surgeons to leave a sterile operating room mid-procedure, Team Dora created an interactive physician’s assistant that provides patient information before and during a surgical procedure. Ultimately, this team’s solution can increase efficiencies by reducing both cost and anesthesia time for a patient while under a surgeon’s care.Congratulations to the Imagine Cup 2013 Grant winners! Your ideas and success are an inspiration!
By Karrie Ilagan, Country General Manager, Microsoft PhilippinesGrowing up in the Philippines makes you acutely aware of earthquakes and the monsoon and typhoon seasons; of the rain, wind and sheer power of nature. I have weathered my share of disasters, however, nothing could prepare me for the impact that was Typhoon Yolanda.
When this disaster struck it was different, the impact was breathtaking. I, however, found myself in a unique situation. As the General Manager for Microsoft Philippines I have access to technology and skills which can be harnessed to help those in need. I can provide support to NGOs for relief and the government to support the critical work in the impacted areas. I also work with an amazing team of capable individuals who genuinely care about their community. They generously give their time and heart to those affected and to the conduits for relief assistance.The breadth of ways technology can be used is staggering, but at first the choices are overwhelming. There is so much we could do; where do we start?What I now appreciate is the power of partnerships. By working with our long term NGO partners such as NetHope and Gawad Kalinga, I grew to learn what was really needed on the ground and could then take that knowledge to my Microsoft colleagues around the world to access technology best practices. I learned what we could deploy quickly and what we can invest for the long term rebuilding efforts and future preparedness. It is amazing to see how the various communities we have nurtured for many years – the start-ups, developers and partner organizations – have joined with us to help unconditionally.
Many people don’t know that by providing Skype credits to families in need we were able to reunite lost loved ones. Or, how our pilot for market innovations with TV WhiteSpaces, which was deployed with a satellite-based telecommunications platform, provided high-speed voice and data connectivity with Ericsson Response and the World Food Programme, to support humanitarian responders.But I do. I also know of the Microsoft team around the globe that came together, every morning at first, to assess the requests we were getting for help and how we could support them; the people who rallied the troops globally to source more than $500,000 in fundraising and matching gifts for my compatriots; and the people across my team who volunteered their time to pack relief kits.I want to say my thanks to all those colleagues, partners and NGOs who have humanized our technology and helped countless families. To each of you, and on behalf of my countrymen – Maraming, Maraming Salamat!To be Filipino is to accept adversity, embrace life and somehow find happiness. To be a Microsoft Filipino is to be all of those things and then add a sprinkle of technological know-how to hopefully help those most in need to get from adversity to happiness that little bit quicker.
Read the full blog post by John Scott Tynes, Competition Manager, Microsoft Imagine Cup, which was originally posted on 4 December 2013, on the Imagine Cup website.Imagine Cup 2014 is already off to a thrilling start. Since we launched this season in mid-September, thousands of students from countries all over the world have formed teams and begun creating brilliant projects. All of these students have one thing in common: they believe in themselves and in the skills they are developing. And in turn, here at Microsoft, we believe in the power of you. That’s why we created Imagine Cup, to provide students with a unique opportunity to grow their confidence and experience competition on a global stage.
The job market today is changing rapidly. Worldwide we see a generation of young people having a hard time finding employment. In the technology field there is a skills gap between what students are learning and what the best jobs require. Imagine Cup helps students prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, gaining direct experience in problem solving, project management, communication, teamwork and more.We also know that students come from all kinds of backgrounds, countries and cultures. To ensure equal access to the latest tools and technology, we have once again partnered with Microsoft DreamSpark, which provides students with professional-level developer tools at no cost, helping students get a head start on their technology careers while building their incredible projects.New in 2014: SDL ChallengesWhen we began planning this season many months ago, we knew we wanted to make some changes to better address the world that students are already living in. We added new contests so students could find ways to compete all year long. We introduced our Software Development Lifecycle Challenges (SDLC) to provide participants real-world skills while working in a cross-disciplinary team. This provides the opportunity to learn best practices for starting a business and how to make the right decisions with the right information to bring ideas to market.The first of these new contests, the Pitch Video Challenge, ended recently with student teams from dozens of countries submitting their five-minute video pitches for their Imagine Cup projects. For the complete list of winning teams, please visit our Pitch Video Challenge Winners page.We are now in the final weeks of the Project Blueprint Challenge, where teams take a deep dive into their thinking and prepare a ten-page document exploring their concept and creating user personas, top user stories, business models, demonstrating how they have already sought and incorporated feedback from potential users. In January, we’ll launch the User Experience Challenge because great design is more important than ever to developing great software. New in 2014: World SemifinalsEvery year we have enormous numbers of students who compete in our three core Imagine Cup competitions of Games, Innovation and World Citizenship. They do so either in our dozens of National Finals held by our subsidiaries around the world or in our Online Finals, which provides students without a National Final in their country a path to victory.But in the end, only a few of the very best teams made it all the way to World Finals and received global recognition for their hard work. This year, we decided to change that.Every first-place winner in every National Finals and in our Online Finals will compete in a whole new round: the World Semifinals. Launching 1 May 2014, all of these first-place teams will be celebrated on our website as World Semifinalists so everyone can hear their stories, see their projects and be inspired by their imagination and passion. Every single World Semifinalist team will be eligible for prizes, including our Visual Studio Online Boost, in which nine teams will receive $1,000 each for using the cloud-based power of Visual Studio Online to collaborate, plan and implement their projects.2014 World FinalsAll World Semifinalists will compete against each other in a global judging round to select the few teams invited to the World Finals in Seattle in July, 2014. Microsoft will bring the very best student teams in the world to Seattle to present their Games, Innovation and World Citizenship projects to our judges, and we will celebrate the winners in each category.Get Started!Imagine Cup and DreamSpark are both part of the YouthSpark initiative, Microsoft’s commitment to empowering 300 million young people with opportunities in education, employment and entrepreneurship by 2015.If you’re a student aged 16 and up, you can get involved in Imagine Cup today. Just register a free account at our website and you’ll be ready to form a team and compete in our contests.We’ve published a list of Imagine Cup National Finals in the 2014 season as well as which countries are eligible to compete in our Online Finals. Check it out and get started!The future is waiting for only one thing: The Power of You.Read the full blog post by John Scott Tynes, Competition Manager, Microsoft Imagine Cup, which was originally posted on 4 December 2013, on the Imagine Cup website.
In November 2013, Microsoft brought 80 nonprofit representatives together in Christchurch and Wellington, New Zealand, for a full day of training on the effective use of social media.Heather Mansfield, principal writer at Nonprofit Tech for Good, conducted the training to rave reviews. "This was the best social media presentation I've attended, and I've done a few now," said Richard Parry of Stand Children's Services. Alan Royal of SeniorNet Wellington agreed, "An outstanding day. The speaker was fluent, informative and showed an awareness of New Zealand content.”We had the chance to catch up with Dave Greenberg from Life Flight Trust and Justine Storey from Plunket to ask them what they thought of the day.
For more information about the resources shared at the event, take a look at the summary on Storify here.
The social media workshop is one of many programmes that Microsoft offers to the nonprofit sector under its Corporate Citizenship umbrella. To find out more about Microsoft's resources for the nonprofit sector, subscribe to the Tech4Good e-newsletter.
Growing up in a rural village in northwest China, Yutiao Wang had dreams of breaking free from the monotony of working the fields. The gruelling farm work yielded only about $625 a year, which was not adequate to fund her high school education. Fortunately, through the free lessons provided by Microsoft-Fuping Community Technology Learning Center in Beijing, Yutiao is now armed with the necessary information technology (IT) skills to help her hunt for a job outside of her village and the fields.Yutiao is one of the many young people who have benefitted from Microsoft’s youth training programme in China. Working together with China Foundation for Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment (CFYEE), Microsoft China successfully launched the IT training programme on 17 September. This programme seeks to enhance the employability and bring out the entrepreneurial capabilities of Chinese youth by educating them on much-needed IT skills. Ralph Haupter, Corporate Vice President and Chief Executive Officer for the Greater China Region at Microsoft; Xu Xiao, Standing Secretary of the Central Committee of the China Communist Youth League (CCYL) and Chairman of CFYEE; Ni Bangwen, Party Secretary of CCYL Central School; and Wang Qing, Secretary General of CFYEE, were among those who attended the launch event.According to Haupter, the programme will directly and indirectly benefit 8.6 million Chinese youth. Training centres will be set up in 11 provinces and cities, including Beijing, Hebei and Shandong. At these centres, IT training courses will be offered on topics such as using the Internet and various Microsoft Office software that are commonly used in the workplace today. Both organisations are extremely dedicated to this programme: they have invested RMB10 million with the aim to set up at least 100 training centres over the next three years.“This programme is an important component of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, as it will help to close the opportunity divide among the youth in China and empower them by providing training. We aim to reach at least 50,000 young people here,” said Haupter.
Haupter and Xu Xiao unveiling the plaque of the Microsoft *** CFYEE Beijing training centre
The launch of the IT training programme coincided with YouthSpark’s one-year anniversary, marking the progress Microsoft has made in China in this area.Today, Yutiao has a job handling administrative duties such as managing the information of clients and trainees. Considering that her first job was in housekeeping, her achievement today is a testament of how IT skills can help underprivileged youth in China widen their career options. “Microsoft aims to closely align our world-class technologies and resources with China’s key growth priority to develop an innovation and knowledge-based economy,” said Haupter.
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