Every year, Microsoft hosts the Imagine Cup, one of the world’s most influential student software development competitions. The company pits developer teams from around the world against each other in a Disrupt Battlefield-like pitch competition, and the winners get substantial awards. Until last year, that was the end of it for the student developer teams, but Microsoft now also provides a number of Imagine Cup Grants to some of the companies in the program that have the potential to become large “social enterprises or nonprofits that will address a specific social issue.”
This year, the company has chosen five teams that will get a share of its three-year, $3 million competitive grant program. If you followed along with this year’s Imagine Cup finals in Australia, chances are the winners don’t come as a surprise to you.
Germany’s Team Graphmasters won the grand prize of $100,000 for its “solution called nunav that reduces vehicle carbon emissions through an innovative navigation system” (we covered their pitch in more detail here when the team still used the name Greenway). Australia’s Team StethoCloud got the second-place grant of $75,000 for its cloud-powered, mobile-hybrid stethoscope for the early detection of pneumonia.
Microsoft also awarded $50,000 grants to Team Vivid from Egypt for its app for accessing medical records in the cloud; to Team Cipher256 from Uganda for its mobile app and listening device to analyze fetal hear rates; and Team QuadSquad – the winners of this year’s Imagine Cup software development competition – for their gloves that can translate sign language-to-speech.
In addition to the grants, Microsoft will provide software, cloud computing services and access to its network of investors, nongovernmental organizations and business partners.
“The Imagine Cup Grants will help students evolve a great idea for addressing a societal issue into a real-world business,” said Dan’l Lewin, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Strategic and Emerging Business Development, in a canned statement today. “These students have developed incredible approaches that show great potential for positive local impact. We are excited to offer financial and other support to help them transform these ideas into businesses with real-world impact.”