Hunting for the next tech superstar: time traveler Doctor Who descends on Microsoft’s Imagine Cup

Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Angry Birds — all had their origins in college dorm rooms. So odds are decent that the founders of the world’s next tech juggernaut just packed up for a very special summer vacation.

They could be among the hundreds of students gathering today in St. Petersburg, Russia for the Imagine Cup 2013 Worldwide Finals. Eighty-seven teams from 71 countries will pit their apps, games and innovative technology solutions against each other and compete for more than $1 million in cash and prizes.

Hosting this year’s finals is distinguished time-traveler Doctor Who (aka actor Matt Smith).

“At its heart, the Imagine Cup is more than mere competition — it helps young people understand they can make their dreams come true through technology,” says Jennifer Ritzinger, senior director of Student Evangelism at
Microsoft. “The competition is a catalyst for young people to turn their ideas to reality.” 

More than 1.65 million students have participated in the Imagine Cup since it began 11 years ago.

“Over the past 11 years, Imagine Cup has served to inspire, encourage and support the youth around the world, and when I see the track record of many of these entrepreneurial teams, who have gone on to found businesses, create companies or become IT leaders in their countries, I know the future is in good hands,” says Don Grantham, vice president for Microsoft’s Central and Eastern Europe area. “We can feel proud as a company, and as individuals, that  Imagine Cup allows us to contribute with real impact in the countries where our employees live and conduct business.”

Many participants have gone into the tech industry, and some have started their own companies. Last year, Australia’s Team Stethocloud became one of the winners of the Imagine Cup Grants program. The former medical students recently launched their own company, Stethocloud, to help doctors in remote areas diagnose and monitor respiratory illness.

Their story illustrates the power driving Imagine Cup competitors, Ritzinger says. She encourages people to tune in Thursday, July 11 to watch the awards ceremony and get inspired—and also watch CEO Steve Ballmer announce the site of next year’s Imagine Cup competition.

“Students change the world,” Ritzinger says. “It’s in our DNA. If Bill Gates and Paul Allen hadn’t met in school, there would be no Microsoft. So the Imagine Cup is Microsoft’s way of giving back.”

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Jake Siegel
Microsoft News Center Staff