Last Tuesday we welcomed seven teams of entrepreneurs to our London offices in Victoria for the UK finals of the 2015 Imagine Cup. This is the 13th year we have been running this competition, and the standard of entrants has been as high as ever, with some of teams entering having already progressed as far as securing investment and generating sales revenues.
Before the teams presented to the panel of judges in the afternoon, our morning sessions saw a series of speakers address some of the biggest 'how to' questions that start-ups have. Essentially it was a taster accelerator compressed into a half day, with the Founder of SecretEscapes.com, Troy Collins, running the keynote session, and sharing his lessons learned in building one of the UK’s hottest start-ups.
After lunch the assembled teams and other attendees heard from Dave Coplin, published author and Chief Envisioning Officer for Microsoft UK, before he went on to chair the actual 2015 UK Imagine Cup Finals.
When it was time for the pitches, each of the teams would present their app or game for five minutes before facing a rigorous Q&A session from our panel of judges, including Michel Van Der Bel, MD of Microsoft UK, and other external figures of industry, such as Rob Bourne of the UK Ministry of Defence.
The entrants were hugely varied, with anything from wearable business networking tools (built on the Microsoft Band and Azure), an ‘Uber for healthcare’, collaborative real-time editing tools, and a game designed to raise awareness for tuberculosis.
After a period of deliberation the judges finally returned with their winners in each category:
Gaming: Team Terrabite
Innovation: Team Siymb
World Citizenship: Team Lifeline
We also launched two partner awards in the UK this year:
Social Media Creativity Award, ( Sponsored by Metia Agency) : Team Mover, awarded with work experience at Metia Agency
Cloud Innovation Award: Team Siymb
You can watch all of the finalist’s presentations here: Stuff TV: Microsoft Imagine Cup
Overall the event was a huge success, with over 150 attendees, ranging from students to mature developers, and during the breakout sessions there were representatives from Microsoft Ventures, Visual Studio and Microsoft Education UK, all of whom offering advice and resources to students and budding entrepreneurs.
With many students in attendance it was a great opportunity for us here at Microsoft Education UK to talk to them about Office Pro Plus Benefit, which enables students (as well as teachers and staff) to download Office on up to five PC/Macs and five mobile devices/tablets at no cost through their academic institution. To check your eligibility and download Office at no cost, please visit Office.com/GetOffice365.
Following the final award presentations and closing remarks, the event broke off into a more relaxed networking affair, and we’d be surprised if we didn’t see some form of collaboration between entrants in the future. We even had time to do a mass Imagine Cup Glow Stick Selfie!
So what’s next?
In line with the event proposition, to inspire all contestants to continue to build and develop their ideas to make them happen, all of the teams have the opportunity to now apply for the MS Ventures accelerator program. For the teams who are not progressing to the World Wide Semi-Finals, the teams from Scottish universities have been introduced to Microsoft Scotland who will continue to mentor the team with funding advice and the gaming teams (TripleOX & Radiation) will be showcasing their game this weekend at Insomnia Gaming Festival.
As for our winners, for them the Imagine Cup journey is just getting started! We wish them all luck in the World Wide Semi Finals taking place in May. Here’s to bringing the Imagine Cup trophy home to the UK in 2015!!