Imagine Cup finalists prepare for showdown

24 Apr 2009

Whittled down from 550 entries to 12 finalists, next week only three of the remaining Irish teams in the Microsoft Imagine Cup student technology competition will be chosen to pitch their innovative ideas to an open audience, after which one winner will go through to the finals in Egypt this summer.

This year, the seventh year of the Imagine Cup, is focusing on the topic of health, and all entries relate to this in some aspect, tackling themes as varied as sustainable living, mental health and primary education, all while using technology as a solution to the problem.

The 12 Irish finalists are variously from Trinity College Dublin, Griffith College Dublin, IADT Dun Laoghaire, NUI Maynooth, Dundalk IT, IT Carlow, IT Sligo, NUI Galway and Limerick IT.

Their chosen topics cover a wide range of everyday problems, but with a unique twist: one project focuses on approaching young children’s learning needs through building and problem-solving, while another tackles mental health through a combination of intellectual (IQ) and emotional (EQ) brain training.

One team has designed a simulator to train for eye surgery, while another has come up with a way of providing simple medical information to families via mobile phone.

Paul Rellis, managing director of Microsoft Ireland, said that the Imagine Cup has taken Ireland by storm: “In our first year entering Ireland in the global competition, 100 students entered the Irish heats and the Irish teams have consistently competed very well at the global finals.

“Three years on, and we have over 550 students entering. It’s a great indicator of the innovation and talent that is developing among our third-level students across the country, and in the current economic climate it reassures me that there is the huge talent among our young people, who are the entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future.”

By Marie Boran