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Microsoft Awards Imagine Cup Grants to Jumpstart Student Startups That Address Social Issues

Students from around the world awarded cash and in-kind funding to support development of technology solutions to solve global problems.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Dec. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At the Social Innovation Summit today, Microsoft Corp. announced the winners of the second annual Microsoft Imagine Cup Grants program, a three-year, $3 million competitive grant program that provides students with funding and support to help transform their projects into social enterprises or nonprofits that will address a specific social issue. The Imagine Cup Grants program is part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, which aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth during the next three years.

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The grand prize grant of $100,000 was awarded to Team Graphmasters from Germany for its solution called nunav that reduces vehicle carbon emissions through an innovative navigation system. The second place grant of $75,000 went to Team StethoCloud from Australia, which developed a solution to diagnose childhood pneumonia. There were also grants of $50,000 to Team Vivid from Egypt, which built a mobile app to access medical records using the cloud; Team Cipher256 from Uganda for its mobile app and listening device to analyze fetal heart rates; and Team QuadSquad from Ukraine, which created a solution that transforms sign language into verbal communication. The teams used technologies including Windows 8, Windows Azure, Windows Phone, Bing Maps and more.

"The Imagine Cup Grants will help students evolve a great idea for addressing a societal issue into a real-world business," said Dan'l Lewin, corporate vice president, Strategic and Emerging Business Development, Microsoft. "These students have developed incredible approaches that show great potential for positive local impact. We are excited to offer financial and other support to help them transform these ideas into businesses with real-world impact."

The grant winners were among the finalists at the Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals, a global competition that invites students to develop a technology, create a business plan and gain a keen understanding of what they need to bring their concepts to market. The Imagine Cup Grants program takes the competition further, helping students turn their ideas into reality by creating a real business or nonprofit. As part of Microsoft YouthSpark, the Imagine Cup Grants program is one way Microsoft is helping young people pursue an education, find employment and foster entrepreneurship.

"The Imagine Cup was the catalyst for our team to create nunav," said Christian Bruggemann, Team Graphmasters. "Through the Imagine Cup Grants, Microsoft is giving us the opportunity to expand our project and bring it to market. As mobile phone adoption becomes more prevalent around the world, it presents a perfect way for nunav to help fight traffic and carbon emissions." 

In addition to the cash awards, the grant packages include software, cloud computing services, solution provider support, premium Microsoft BizSpark account benefits and access to local resources such as Microsoft Innovation Centers. Microsoft will also connect grant recipients with its network of investors, nongovernmental organization partners and business partners and will work with the grant recipients to tailor individual support as needed depending on the progress each team has made so far with its project.

Imagine Cup Grants Award Winners

  • Team Graphmasters, Germany. Christian Bruggemann, Sebastian Heise and Iulian Nitescu. Project description: nunav is a navigation system with the potential to reduce vehicle carbon emissions by preventing traffic congestion. The system proactively routes city traffic by calculating the best route for each car and communicating that information to each driver. Team video: http://bit.ly/RWjVN6
  • Team StethoCloud, Australia. Hon Weng Chong, Andrew Lin, Mahsa Salehi and Karthik Rajah. Project description: StethoCloud is a cloud-powered, mobile-hybrid stethoscope for early detection of pneumonia. By connecting a custom stethoscope to a mobile phone, the user is able to transmit diagnostic information into a cloud service, reproducing the diagnostic capability of a trained medical doctor. Team video: http://bit.ly/PWCcKy
  • Team Vivid, Egypt. Nour El-Dien Hussein, Muhammed Mousa El-Orabi and Fady Fawzy Rafla. Project description: Health Buzz is a cost-effective mobile-based solution that helps healthcare service providers access patients' electronic medical records through a secure cloud-based storage system. It services patients and physicians through a phone, tablet or desktop computer. Team video: http://bit.ly/T4PJAt
  • Team Cipher256, Uganda. Aaron Tushabe, Joshua Okello, Dr. Davis Musinguzi, Josiah Kavuma and Joseph Kaizzi. Project description: WinSenga is a mobile application that aids health workers as they assist expectant mothers. The algorithm analyzes fetal heart sounds to determine the fetal heart rate (beats per minute) and the age and position of the fetus and then records these readings to the cloud. Team video: http://bit.ly/Us89qS
  • Team QuadSquad, Ukraine. Maxim Osika, Valeriy Yasakov, Anton Stepanov, Anton Posternikov and Dmytro Samoilenko. Project description: Enable Talk was created to give disabled individuals with limited communication abilities a better way to communicate. It transforms sign language into a form of verbal communication by creating a mobile device that continuously recognizes sign language phonemes. Team video: http://bit.ly/UIDx4E

This year, more than 40 Imagine Cup teams applied for the grants. A judging panel of industry experts with knowledge spanning technology, venture capitalism, software development, startup culture and the nonprofit sector ranked each team based on specific criteria, including project impact and viability and team quality and motivation. The judges included the following:

About Microsoft YouthSpark

Microsoft YouthSpark is a global initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries during the next three years. This companywide initiative includes Citizenship and other company programs — both new and enhanced — that empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship. Find out more at: http://www.microsoft.com/youthspark.

About Microsoft Imagine Cup

This year marks the 11th year of Imagine Cup, which will be celebrated at the worldwide finals in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 8–12, 2013. Students ages 16 and older are eligible to register and compete in Imagine Cup 2013 by visiting the Imagine Cup website at http://www.imaginecup.com. A full list of competitions and challenges are listed at http://imaginecup.com/main/compete. In the past decade, more than 1.65 million students from 190 countries have registered to compete for cash and other prizes.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

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