More and more government officials are recognizing that, for their country or region to thrive, they need to foster local innovation.  And to do so, they are increasingly looking to students – especially those studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – as the key to success.  

Over the past 4 months, Imagine Cup students from across the globe who won their regional competitions have been celebrated by their government leaders for their technological feats.  These leaders recognize that it’s not enough to just hope that students study STEM fields.  They acknowledge the importance of prestigious technology competitions such as the Imagine Cup in inspiring students to get excited about and pursue an education or career in science and technology.

With more than 325,000 students registering worldwide last year, the Imagine Cup is now the world’s premier student technology competition – challenging students to use technology to solve the world’s toughest problems.   As you’ll see in the photos below, the finalists of last year’s competition have been hailed as national heroes because of their creative thinking and passion for designing solutions to solve real-world problems. 

Last week, New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, literally brought the point home about the importance of innovation to drive growth when he announced the city’s partnership with Microsoft to host the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals next July.

Enjoy this celebration of the confluence of ingenuity and social consciousness!

United States

Christian Hood (hidden) and Wilson To (second row, far left) on stage with President Obama during his address to kick off the White House Science Fair.

On October 18th, two Imagine Cup 2010 finalists were invited to participate in the first annual White House Science Fair. Wilson To from the Mobilife team and Christian Hood from BeastWare had the opportunity to meet President Obama, standing among 60 students from across the nation that were recognized for their creative thinking and innovations in science, technology, engineering and math. You can read more about the White House Science Fair on the Imagine Cup blog.

New Zealand

From left to right, Steve Ward, Kayo Lakadia, Hon. Mike Moore (former NZ prime minister), Chaneyol Yoo, Vinny Jeet, Carlos Martinez (Microsoft Industry Mentor).

Team OneBeep from New Zealand received a personal letter from New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Hon. John Key, that congratulated them on their 3rd place finish in the Software Design category at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Poland, and noted that their solution has great potential to make a different to people’s lives. The team also met with former New Zealand Prime Minister and current ambassador to the United States, Hon. Mike Moore, pictured above. Field trials of their project are beginning soon. (www.onebeep.org)

“This concept of connecting the world's computers by radio waves is a game changer in terms of access to information. It can have profound impact in developing countries. I have already raised this concept with people at the World Bank & elsewhere who are very interested!”Hon. Mike Moore, NZ Ambassador to the United States, former Prime Minister of New Zealand

Thailand

Team Skeet (top row, center) with former Imagine Cup participants from Thailand, as well as Dr. Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich, Member of Parliament and Secretary General of The Rajapruek Institute Foundation (second row, third from left).

The winners of Thailand Imagine Cup 2010 presented to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn a demonstration of eyeFeel, the winning application that aims to help hearing-impaired people communicate with normal people, bridging communication gap.

In August, Microsoft Thailand held an event to inspire local Thai students to showcase their software application development skills to the world through the Imagine Cup 2011 competition.  Former Imagine Cup participants attended the event, including Team Skeet, who was 2010’s overall winning team in software design. The students had the privilege of meeting Dr. Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich, a member of Parliament and Secretary General of The Rajapruek Institute Foundation, who gave an opening speech on how young software developers are helping to drive the country forward.

 

Central Europe

Team NomNom Productions from Belgium demonstrate their Imagine Cup game design project, “Shift,” during the “Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation” conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on October 6th, 2010.

Earlier this month, Microsoft Poland and members of the European Parliament hosted the “Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation” conference in Brussels. The event gathered more than 60 participants, including Imagine Cup teams from Poland (fteams and Mutants), Serbia (TFZR), Germany (Mediator), and Belgium (Nom Nom Productions), as well as several European deputies and representatives of the European Commission. The purpose of the conference was to recognize the finalists from the Imagine Cup 2010 competition, and discuss the possibilities and methods of collaboration between the public and private sectors to stimulate innovation.

Greece

Giorgos Karakatsiotis and Vangos Pterneas with the Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou (far left).

Greek Imagine Cup winners, Giorgos Karakatsiotis and Vangos Pterneas meet with the Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou, at his office, and demonstrate their project that creates personalized descriptions of museum exhibits based on the user's needs.

Jamaica

Governor General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen (center) smiles as members of NCU's Imagine Cup team – Team Xormis – display their “I Believe Foundation Awards.” From left are: Derron Brown, Shawn McLean, Dwayne Samuels and Markel Mairs.

Following the success of two Imagine Cup teams from Jamaica’s Northern Caribbean University at the 2010 Worldwide Finals, teams Xormis and Educ8 were honored with a special luncheon hosted by the Government of Jamaica that included an address from Hon. Bruce Golding, the prime minister. Both teams presented their projects to the elite panel to demonstrate the important role technology education can play in generating innovation in the country.