Microsoft has launched the biggest technology competition in the UK – and is looking for entries

Students who create technology that solves real-world problems are being invited to enter a Microsoft competition with a grand prize worth $100,000.

The company is looking for young developers in the UK to enter the Imagine Cup, one of the world’s leading contests for young entrepreneurs.

Submissions for the UK final are now being accepted, with the winners taking home £5,000 and an Xbox One X – the most powerful console ever made. Second prize is £3,000 and third prize is £2,000.

The winners will also qualify for the grand final at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, USA, where they will take on the world’s best technology entrepreneurs for the chance to win $85,000, a grant for the company’s cloud platform, Azure, and a mentoring session with Chief Executive Satya Nadella.

In addition, the winners of three special awards that focus on artificial intelligence, big data and mixed reality will each take home $15,000.

Students can compete in teams of up to three people to create an original technology project from start to finish – create an idea, make a plan, build the solution and compete. It must also run on Azure.

The UK final will be judged by Clare Barclay, Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft UK; Haiyan Zhang, Innovation Director at Microsoft Research; Michael Wignall, National Technology Officer at Microsoft UK; and Rob Fraser, Commercial Software Engineering Lead at Microsoft UK.

“When it comes to technology and innovation, the UK is home to some of the best and brightest talent in the world,” Barclay said. “The Imagine Cup is the perfect platform for innovation and creativity. We are looking forward to seeing ideas that really push the boundaries of what technology along with human potential can achieve.”

Everything you need to know about the Imagine Cup

Last year’s UK final was won by three students from Imperial College London. Michael Moses, Suleiman Mashini and Philippe Torbey – whose team was called Donaco – created an app that makes it easier for people to donate money to charity. The program uses artificial intelligence to place pop-up boxes next to relevant news articles that allow readers to instantly give money to that cause. The team behind the app hope that it will lead to more money being given to charity as well as give news outlets new ways to engage with readers.

Following their win, Moses said: “Opportunities like the Imagine Cup are really important. There are loads of students with interesting ideas, but nobody really has a path to push them forwards or understands how. We understand the technology aspect, but getting advice on things like pitching and scaling is great.”

More than two million students have entered the Imagine Cup over the past 15 years, with many going on to join Microsoft’s BizSpark programme that helps start-ups develop their products.

Donaco, winners of the UK final of the Imagine Cup in 2017

Donaco won last year’s UK final

Last year’s overall Imagine Cup winner was Team X.GLU from the Czech Republic, who created a solution to help people with diabetes better manage their symptoms.

“The Imagine Cup is about inspiring young minds to learn and create,” said Zhang, who invented the Emma Watch for a woman with Parkinson’s on the BBC’s Big Life Fix. “Every year this competition gives us a glimpse of the next generation building the technology of the future. These are products that have the potential to change the world and help millions of people achieve more.”

The closing date for entries to the Imagine Cup UK final is March 18. Visit the official website for more information.