Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2013 student technology competition in St. Petersburg, Russia, just ended with a high-energy awards gala hosted by Dr. Who’s Matt Smith. This year, Microsoft awarded three main prizes of $50,000 each to the winners in the World Citizenship, Games and Innovation categories, which were won by teams from the U.K., Portugal and Austria. The second and third place winners in these categories won $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.
The World Citizenship award went to Portugal’s Ana Ferraz who developed a system to quickly and cheaply determine a patient’s blood type. While Taiwan’s Omni-Hearing Solution was second and Confufish Royale from Australia came in third.
Colinked out of the U.K. took the top prize in the Innovations category for SoundSYNK, a mobile phone app designed to establish an “impromptu social network” by connecting phones through Bluetooth/Wi-Fi. DORA from Slovenia came in second, and Thailand’s MYRA came in third.
Microsoft also sponsored three other minor awards that focus on its technologies. The Windows Phone Challenge award was won by vSoft Studio from Singapore, which built a voice-drive reminders app for Windows Phone. India’s Y-Nots won the Windows Azure challenge (as well as the Mail.ru award) and Italy’s TeamNameException won the Windows 8 App Challenge.
Another award worth singling out here is the UN Women Award, which is meant to highlight projects that empower and protect women. The awards in this category went to Taiwan’s Omni-Hearing Solution and Uganda’s Code 8 malaria-testing solution.
In total, Microsoft and a set of event sponsors like KFC, Samsung, Facebook and Mail.ru awarded over $1 million to the best projects in this year’s competition. Over 25,000 students competed in their local events and 87 teams with 309 students from 71 countries were invited to showcase their creations in Russia this week. This was the 11th year in a row Microsoft organized this event. Next year, the Imagine Cup will be hosted on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Wash.
In previous years, the event mostly focused on the World Citizenship and Games categories as the keystone competitions. This year, however, Microsoft added the “Innovation” category to allow a wider range of students to participate with products and services that use very advanced technologies but that aren’t directly related to the “betterment of humanity.”