By Emeka Aginam,
Like the Olympic Games Rio 2016 currently going on in Brazil, Microsoft 2016 Imagine Cup successfully ended last week in Seattle, Washington, the United State of America, with a call to technology students to turn their innovative ideas into reality.
The 2016 software contest had brought together no fewer than 120 talented technology students from 34 countries around the world to showcase their talents.
Founded in 2003, Microsoft Imagine Cup is the premier technology programme and competition had provided opportunities for student technologists to change the world with their innovative ideas.
But the time the capacity building event was drawing to a close, the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, gave the students a home work which was very clear.
Turn your ideas into market realities and use digital technologies to change the world were the concluding remarks of Microsoft CEO during an award ceremony at the global software contest.
The Microsoft boss who was full of excitement as a result of innovative ideas presented by the students further went on to encourage the ambitious looking technology students, saying that the 21st century society lies in their hands. Change your local communities with your solutions, he added.
Similarly, during the Championship show, it was exciting to see finalists’ reactions as they received words of encouragement and inspiration from the likes of Seattle Seahawks superstar quarterback Russell Wilson and hit recording artist and Garfield High alum Macklemore, both of whom congratulated the students on making it this far in the competition and wished them luck on their innovation journey.
Looking at the faces of the software code warriors after the message of the Microsoft boss,
it was really a big assignment.
Although funding and mentor ship have always been a challenge to the students after the competition, watching the students project presentations, there were convincing signals that the world will be a better place if the solutions showcased are deployed and taking to the markets. It will however, go a long way in changing the world by tackling greatest problems like disease, hunger, environmental ,degradation, illiteracy , among others.
Having been following up with Imagine Cup competition for appreciable number of years, it is clear that Imagine Cup competitors have continued to show passion for tapping into the power of technology to make the world around them a better place.
For the Romanian team leader, Iulian-Razvan Matesica, who was full of excitement, Imagine cup was a big opportunity for them.
The ENTy team from Romania created a high-tech wearable device that tracks the balance of the internal ear and checks the spine posture in real time.
“ We thank Microsoft for the opportunity. It is a wonderful experience contesting with students from others countries. We will scale up our solution. We will take our project to the market. We will turn our ideas into market realities. We did not know that we could do it. We are going to launch it and get medical certificate for the product. This will help us deliver the products to the hospital. But we need mentor ship and seed funding to scale up the solution” she said.
Narrating their experience, Obasegun Ayodele, the spokesperson of Team Nigeria from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, OAU, said that their global competitiveness just started after competing in worldwide finals.
Creating a gaming and internet-surfing platform for the visually-impaired, according to him, has really inspired them to take the solution to the next level.
“We have upgraded Humane solution to include state of the art technologies such as AI for facial and scene recognition. We are also concluding partnerships with resume and job search companies which would help advance our solution as regards helping the visually impaired apply for jobs. We have increased the app base of Humane to fit educational use.
“The challenge is funding for bootcamps and component purchase coupled with power and internet access. We also would love to have more partnership with companies that are interested in adopting the Humane platform to access the visually impaired.
“We also plan on carrying a market survey where the humane solution would be tested on about 1000 to 5000 persons. To compete at world stage is just the beginning of our entrepreneur lives. “We are defining standards that would pilot innovation for the visually impaired”, he said.
Team Night Watch from Tunisia
For team Night Watch from Tunisia, the only African country that won 2nd Place winner in the World Citizenship category, Imagine was the beginning of their journey to entrepreneur life.
Night’s Watch created a prosthesis for people with disabilities at the hand controlled by the MYO ( carried level of the forearm ).
According to Assil Mekki, one of the team members, “We are passionate about technology. We believe that it is the path to make the world a better place. A great idea is only great when you build it. We will take our project to market”.
Digital Interactive Games from South Africa
Also speaking ,Jason Cross, a team member of Digital Interactive Games from South Africa, while narrating their experience said that Microsoft Imagine Cup was really a big opportunity and exposure.
“This is a good beginning for our team. We will turn our big ideas into market realities after this competition even though is a challenge. We are a team of students attending Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, NMMU, in Port Elizabeth South Africa”, he said.
Team Healthx from United States
For Ahmad Alsaleem, a team member of Healthx, winners, of 2016 United States World Citizenship, Imagine Cup has helped them to re- tool their solution to global stage, adding that, their team will take the solution to next level.
A good example of success story of Imagine Cup is Abiola Olaniran, founder of Gamsole, who was among the students that went to Poland in 2010 to showcase software Nigeria.
The young man has turned his ideas into realities as he is already making a big impact on the global gaming scene with millions of downloads achieved around the world.
Gamsole’s success shows that Imagine cup students must take their product to the next level. It also shows that the time is ripe for international investors to become involved in the African Mobile gaming industry.
It would be recalled that 35 teams from 34 countries had competed in the world finals in Seattle, Washington, with 9 in the Games category, 13 in the Innovation category and 13 in the World Citizenship category.
Running in 14th year, it started in 2003 with just 2,000 students from 25 countries. To date, nearly 1.8 million students from more than 190 countries have engaged with the Imagine cup program.