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Irish students in Microsoft Cup semis

Friday, March 14 11:40:42

Three teams of Irish third-level students have made it to the world semi-finals of the World Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition.

Microsoft today opened its doors to third level students from across the country for the Irish finals of the world's premier student technology competition.

The Imagine Cup has been running in Ireland for the past eight years and previously Irish teams have had great success on the global stage - in 2011 team Hermes from IT Sligo won the overall award at the global finals in New York. That team has since gone on to start their own business called CleverMiles, a cloud-based rewards platform aimed at turning 18- to 35-year-olds into safer drivers.

To date 538 teams have competed in the Irish finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup.

This year teams are competing in a number of different categories: Games, Innovation and World Citizenship. Students are challenged to develop practical solutions for the world that they live in today. Not only are the students encouraged to come up with ideas under the categories but they are given advice and support from Microsoft to turn those ideas into viable start-up businesses - encouraging entrepreneurship and helping to support job creation.

Already this year two Irish teams have been successful in advance rounds of the Microsoft Imagine Cup and have received support towards their innovative ideas:

Team RUOK from IT Sligo have been selected as a one of the four team grant winners worldwide and will receive a $50,000 Grant to help kick start and build out their idea. RUOK is a TV application that provides support to elderly people living independently. By connecting RUOK to the TV, users can interact with others through Skype while using Kinect and Windows to access exercise programs and receive important notifications from their home alarm systems, heart rate monitors, medication reminders and also use a tag TV feature to share TV experiences with their friends and loved ones. Microsoft will also fly the team to Silicon Valley for 2 months intensive training this summer in Draper University to get them pitch and VC ready.

Earlier this year Team Symbiote from Dundalk IT were named the World Wide Winners in the World Citizenship category of the Imagine Cup for their pitch solution called Nyx. Their solution is a Kinect-powered Windows game designed for patients with Multiple Sclerosis or Muscular Dystrophy. Using motions based on actual physical-therapy techniques, patients play a series of manipulation puzzles designed to retain and improve their physical mobility and control.

Speaking at the Irish finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup, Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland said: "The job market today is changing rapidly. Worldwide we see a generation of young people having a hard time finding employment. In the technology field there is a skills gap between what students are learning and what the best jobs require. But Imagine Cup helps students prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, gaining direct experience in problem solving, project management, communication, and teamwork."