Colleges Set for Technology Battle at Microsoft’s Imagine Cup U.S. Finals

LOS ANGELES — April 16, 2008 — College students from across America will showcase their innovative creations in the U.S. finals of Imagine Cup 2008 next week. As the world’s premier student technology competition, the Imagine Cup is one way Microsoft Corp. is encouraging young people to apply their imagination and creativity to technology innovations that can make a difference in the world.

Addressing this year’s theme to use technology to help sustain the environment, the student finalists worked for months to design their own software programs, video games and digital photo essays. At stake during the three-day event will be generous cash prizes, invaluable exposure to experts in entrepreneurship and innovation, and a springboard to start their careers.

“The Imagine Cup is all about igniting the imagination of tomorrow’s technology visionaries and leaders, and inspiring them to harness the possibilities of technology to build a better world,” said Dan’l Lewin, corporate vice president of Strategic and Emerging Business Development at Microsoft. “The contest provides student inventors and entrepreneurs with a launch pad for their ideas and access to key resources that can set them on the path to career success.”

Now in its sixth year, Microsoft’s Imagine Cup seeks to channel the enterprise, ingenuity and technology prowess of the world’s students into groundbreaking solutions that address real-world issues and challenges. The event is part of Microsoft’s commitment to use the power of software and technology innovation to help inspire young students and entrepreneurial businesses around the world. In the U.S., more than 16,000 students registered to compete this year from over 125 colleges across the country. The winners of the U.S. finals will have a chance to advance to the Imagine Cup worldwide finals in Paris from July 3 to 8, where they will pit their imagination and passion against the best young programmers, technologists, designers and digital artists from around the world. Globally, more than 185,000 students from 100 countries registered for the Imagine Cup.

“I think the Imagine Cup gives students an amazing ability to think beyond the usual boundaries to develop solutions to solve real global issues,” said Brian Thomas, who represented the U.S. at last year’s worldwide finals in Seoul, South Korea, and returned to compete this year. “The focus on innovation has given me the confidence to expand my ideas about technology and apply that to my future career.”

The U.S. finals, held in Los Angeles at the Orpheum Theatre from April 20 to 22, showcases student inventions across software design, game development and digital photography. The winner in each of the following categories will be announced at the closed ceremonies on April 22, Earth Day:

  • Software Design. Students create real-world, dynamic and powerful software solutions using Microsoft tools and technology.

  • Game Development. For the first time, Imagine Cup is challenging students to use Microsoft’s groundbreaking new XNA Game Studio Express to create a game that is not only entertaining but socially responsible as well.

  • Photography. By using a photo essay format, students are challenged to communicate a story about education using only photos as the communication medium.

The prizes up for grabs for category winners include the opportunity to have their own booth at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), the nation’s largest gaming expo, and a two-page spread in American Photo magazine.

Students also will have the opportunity to take their projects to the next level by learning how to be savvy entrepreneurs and maximize the impact their inventions can have in improving lives. All finalists will be eligible to participate in an innovation and entrepreneurship workshop where they will receive coaching from a distinguished panel of experts on how to refine their concepts into a smart business plan, bring them to market as commercially viable products, attract venture funding and run a startup business.

The U.S. finals also will feature basketball legend and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson, founder and chairman of the Magic Johnson Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to developing programs and supporting services that address the educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson will be on hand to speak to the students and introduce a panel discussion on the importance of innovation in education and careers. He will also receive a donation of $1.56 million in software and cash from Microsoft to enhance 21 Magic Johnson Foundation Community Empowerment Centers.

“It is an honor to welcome some of the most talented and imaginative youth to downtown Los Angeles,” said Councilmember José Huizar, City of Los Angeles, whose district will host the event. “The students who participate in the Imagine Cup represent the next generation of technology and business leaders. Their creativity and innovation speak volumes about the promise of technology to make a difference in peoples’ lives and the way we think, work and communicate.”

More information about the Imagine Cup, descriptions of the student projects and details about the worldwide finals in Paris can be found at and Media interested in photos and b-roll of the event should contact Andy Nordhoff at the address below.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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