Kiwi students set for 2014 Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals

Four Auckland University students who designed an innovative social interaction app for mobile devices have been selected to compete in the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals in Seattle, USA, next month.

Hayden Do (19), Jason Wei (19), Chris Duan (30), and Derek Zhu (22) beat out more than 150 other teams from around the globe at the recent Imagine Cup World Semifinals with their app called ‘Meep’, which helps friends meet up by tracking their locations in real time.

After first impressing the judges to win one of the three top awards in the New Zealand Imagine Cup competition held in April, they will now compete for one of three $50,000 grand prizes.

They are one of only 33 teams that made it to the worldwide finals and will compete against the top nine teams in the world in the innovation category.

The panel of judges will include Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, as well as Code.org Co-Founder, Hadi Partovi, and Reddit General Manager, Erik Martin.

One team will also have the opportunity to meet with Microsoft founder, Bill Gates.

Nigel Parker, Developer Experience Director for Microsoft New Zealand, says it is impressive to have seen teams of Kiwi students making it to the global finals of the Imagine Cup for several years running.

“Having been involved with the Imagine Cup for a number of years in New Zealand I am inspired by the students who passionately disrupt the technology landscape both locally and globally as a result of their fresh thinking and entrepreneurial spirit,” Parker says.

“New Zealand has punched above its weight placing in the top ten in the world four times in the last five years.

“We’ve seen a lot of Imagine Cup teams go on to do great things.

“For example, I was encouraged to see Vigil Monitoring, formed off the back of the winning New Zealand Imagine Cup team in 2012, win the Callaghan Innovation Hi-Tech Pre-Commercialisation Company of the Year Award last month.”

This year Microsoft extended the reach of the local Imagine Cup competition by partnering with the University of Auckland to train and place 75 students in 22 companies to work over the summer.

“Of the students placed, 10 have secured ongoing employment and these students represented the majority of the students that made it through to our national finals of the Imagine Cup competition in April,” Parker adds.

“This is aiding the connection between tertiary education providers and high-tech firms.”

Imagine Cup is the world’s premier student technology competition. Students compete in teams of up to four people in the Games, Innovation or World Citizenship competitions to create an original technology project from start to finish.

The teams create an idea, make a plan, build the project and then compete, giving them the opportunity to learn how to launch their business and bring ideas to market.

This year’s Imagine Cup World Finals will be hosted at the University of Washington during TechReady, the Microsoft Technical Conference, giving students the chance to meet with a broad range of people in the industry. The Meep Team will be accompanied by a mentor from Microsoft New Zealand.

Now in its 12th year, Imagine Cup inspires students around the world to innovate across all of Microsoft’s technology platforms.

Microsoft worldwide student competition is a truly global competition with around 16,900 students in 11,700 teams submitting 7,500 projects worldwide. This year there were 73 entries in New Zealand from across the country.

The Imagine Cup World Final will be held in Seattle, Washington, USA from July 29 through to August 2.

To see the full list of the World Finalists teams, visit the Imagine Cup blog here: https://www.imaginecup.com/Blog/Details/meet-the-imagine-cup-2014-world-finals-teams

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