Microsoft finds Indian talent for $100,000 prize



Microsoft on Monday announced the India winners of its Imagine Cup 2017 at a conference in New Delhi. The winners will represent the country at the worldwide finals in July in Seattle and stand against global competitors for a $100,000 prize.

Content Holmes of BITS Pilani has emerged as the winning team among the 27 finalist teams from the Indian region that developed a one-click artificial intelligence (AI) based online parenting solution to help parents keep children secure from cyber bullying.

Microsoft Imagine Cup winners
Microsoft Imagine Cup winners at a conference in New Delhi

Originally started back in 2003, the 15th edition of Imagine Cup has received participation from more than 1,600 colleges across the country.

“We had got entries from 500-600 institutes last year, but over 1,600 colleges have participated this time,” said Narendra Bhandari, general manager of developer experience and evangelism, Microsoft India.

Bhandari, who leads the growth of developer engagements by Microsoft in the country, told Open Source For You that of the 27 participating teams, 11 are led by women. “This is definately heartening, if not surprising,” he highlights.

Skill of thinking

Microsoft constructed four judging panels to bring out the winners. Each of the panels includes different jury members, including engineers, venture capitalists/accelerators, startup founders and academicians. Further, there is only one Microsoft employee.

“We have expanded the juries,” reveals Bhandari. “They are bringing a different prospective in judging the ideas, and each of the widened jury panels is giving the participants the feedback to improve.”

The aim of the new expansion is not just to create startups but also to bring thinking skills. “The idea is not only to create startups but also to bring students closer to the skill of thinking,” Bhandari says.

Open to all platforms

Instead of focusing primarily on a proprietary solution, Microsoft is open-mindedly considering developments irrespective of platform.

“The message we give to people through Imagine Cup is any developer, any app and any platform,” Bhandari states.

When asked about what message developers need to receive from a programme like Imagine Cup, Bhandari told Open Source For You that this is the best time to innovate. “You have got all kinds of mentorship that is available,” he adds.

Apart from Content Holmes, Mi-amigos of Chameli Group of Institutes, PocketConfident AI of IIT, Hyderabad, and White Cane of IIT, Kharagpur have emerged as the three runner-ups. Three of the four outstanding projects are based on AI technologies.


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