BT lends student software coders a hand

Last year's winners of the Imagine Cup for software design are getting technical and business training from BT and Microsoft
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor and  Tom Espiner, Contributor

Microsoft and BT have announced that the top six winners of the Software Design category of the 2006 Imagine Cup have begun an intensive business training workshop as part of their prize.

The Imagine Cup, run by Microsoft, is an annual event that challenges student teams to devise technological solutions to real-world problems. The six winning student teams for the 2006 event were announced last August, having impressed the judges with their responses to the challenge of "imagining a world where technology enables us to live healthier lives".

BT revealed on Tuesday that the six winning student teams will participate in a technical and business training workshop over the next two weeks, called the Imagine Cup Innovation Accelerator — a joint initiative between BT and Microsoft.

There, they will be coached in how to transform their software applications into successful businesses.

"In the Innovation Accelerator programme, we help the students combine their technical skills with practical know-how so that they can create a business plan, attract investors and launch a successful product," explained Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of the Developer and Platform Evangelism Group at Microsoft.

The six winning teams came from six different countries, and had come up with a range of different ideas:

  • Italy's Even .ctor, from the Polytechnic of Turin and University of Turin, devised Hello World, which is designed to allow doctors to access important information unreported by the patient.
  • The Trivial Team, from Brazil's Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, developed vEye (Virtual Eye) which gives blind people information about their environment by using radio frequency identification tags located in cities or commercial malls.
  • Norway's Team NTNU, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, created MediWatch, which integrates third-party health-monitoring services through mobile devices such as smartphones to distribute critical information to health professionals and families.
  • Frontfree Studio — MISG, from China's Beijing University of Technology, created Project Helen, an intelligent, entertaining healthcare system that includes video games.
  • EKG.Net, from Croatia's Faculty of Organisation and Informatics at the University of Zagreb, developed the SmartECG. It monitors a patient’s heart rate and transmits data to an application located on a PDA, raising an alarm and providing GPS coordinates if an irregular signal is noted.
  • Trailblazers, from Germany's University of Applied Science in Hamburg, developed Trailblazers, a navigation system to enable people with physical disabilities to move in a barrier-free manner.

Although the event was widely promoted in the UK, no UK teams got through to the final. BT wasn't deterred by this, though.

"The six software design teams taking part in the Innovation Accelerator were drawn from 42 teams that made it to the finals of the 2006 Imagine Cup in Delhi. Given the level of interest and participation in the annual Imagine Cup — more than 65,000 students from 100 countries entered last year — it would be unreasonable to expect a British team to be in the top six every year," said a BT spokesperson.

It's not too late to enter the 2007 Imagine Cup, as entries can be accepted until 28 February 2007.

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