IT Sligo students named Imagine Cup finalists at Microsoft app and gaming event

28 Feb 2013

IT Sligo students Damien Fee, Gabriel Cioflica and Killian Mc Cormack, Irish finalists for Microsoft's Imagine Cup. Photo by Maxwell Photography

A team of students from IT Sligo and their innovative system to improve the lives of older people at home have been named the winner of the Irish Microsoft Imagine Cup finals 2013, and will now go on to compete at an international level in Russia.

Killian McCormack, Damien Fee, Linzi Ryan and Gabriel Cioflica came up with an innovative solution to support older people’s social and physical well-being in their homes through technology. Using Windows Phone, Skype and Kinect, their service provides online fitness classes through the TV, allows older people to watch TV with family and friends remotely, and can send alerts from an older person’s home should they encounter difficulties.

Having been named the Irish winner of the Microsoft Imagine Cup at Microsoft’s National App and Gaming Conference in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin today, the IT Sligo students will now represent Ireland in the international finals in St Petersburg.

This year, the competition focused on three core themes: world citizenship (for software applications that will impact positively on people), games and innovation. Entrants had to build their systems using Microsoft’s platforms, tools and technology, and the process teaches young technologists, developers and entrepreneurs about developing a technology application – from creating a business plan to bringing a concept to market.

Previous winners Team Hermes now CleverMiles

The winning team follows in the footsteps of 2011’s overall Imagine Cup winners, who also hailed from IT Sligo. Team Hermes designed a device they hoped could reduce road deaths by monitoring dangerous driving behaviour and road conditions, and providing instant feedback.

Team Hermes is now a small business called CleverMiles, with original team member James McNamara in the role of CTO. “The Imagine Cup is a great competition and provided us with the start we needed to turn our idea in a business concept,” said McNamara, speaking at today’s event. “We’ve spent the last two years developing and testing our concept. We believe there is a real need for a product like CleverMiles.”

The 2013 Irish team will be mentored by Microsoft Ireland in the lead-up to the Imagine Cup finals in July and, this year, prize money was almost doubled to US$300,000. Finalists like the IT Sligo students selected today will also have the opportunity to apply for Imagine Cup grants as part of a three-year US$3m investment by Microsoft to help make these innovative ideas become a reality.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.