Celebrating Innovation Day and the Imagine Cup Finals in Japan

By Drew Robbins, Commercial Software Engineering Lead, Microsoft Japan

Microsoft Innovation Day 2018 was held April 16th in Tokyo, Japan. Many cutting-edge students and startups presented their engineering projects at the event. The event included the national finals of Imagine Cup 2018, the largest global student programming contest, and Microsoft Innovation Awards which honors startup technology innovations.

Japan Imagine Cup 2018 received many innovative submissions, from which 10 teams advanced to the Imagine Cup 2018 Japan National Final. This year we partnered with Preferred Networks and supported students by giving them technical sessions and mentoring.

At the Japan National Final, the 10 teams gave enthusiastic presentations, and 3 teams won the right to present at the World Finals to be held in July in Seattle, Washington.

Imagine Cup 2018 Japan National Final Winners: 

  • ezaki-lab (National Institute of Technology, Toga College)
    Use AI to optimize the feeding for fish farmers, reducing costs and improving yield.
  • Mediated Ear (The University of Tokyo)
    Assist hearing impaired by using Deep Learning to reduce the noise in an audio stream, isolating the speakers voice.
  • Team Emergensor (The University of Tokyo)
    Detect emergencies from smartphone data to alert nearby citizens and improve response time, reducing accidents.

The technical level of all 10 team solutions was very high, using advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Mixed Reality, and Big Data. The submitted projects also showed how technologies can be used to improve quality of life.

Microsoft Innovation Awards was also very exciting, focusing on technologies such as Mixed Reality, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and quantum computing. These are key focus areas for Microsoft and it’s exciting to see startups innovate in this area.

Microsoft Innovation Award Winners:

  • 1st prize: ARAYA Inc.
    An algorithm for Neural Network requiring less computation resources.
  • 2nd prize: AISing Ltd.
    Machine learning AI which works in Edge computing using Deep Binary Tree.

The startup solutions utilized Microsoft’s platform. They extend the possibilities by building new solutions and creating new value to the world. I saw great opportunities to collaborate more with startups technically and in business together. For example, ARAYA’s computation complexity reduction technologies and AISing Deep Binary Tree (DBT), compliments existing AI model deployment to edge devices. Together with their solutions, we get closer to the realization of the Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge.

Microsoft’s mission is to “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” We have been supporting innovators now and in the next generation to achieve more. We support students to think big, explore possibilities, and put their ideas to life in Imagine Cup. Students have access to Azure and Microsoft development technologies through Microsoft Imagine. Startups receive support through the new Microsoft for Startups program.

This year was the 16th Imagine Cup and the 11th Microsoft Innovation Day. It’s exciting to think how long we’ve been supporting these innovative communities and I’m looking forward to what we accomplish together in the future.

Finally, thank you for all the teams and companies who presented, and the sponsors and partners who supported a great Microsoft Innovation Day. I’m looking forward to seeing the Imagine Cup winner teams’ great success at the World Final.

ALSO READ: APAC Imagine Cup: From students to developers to entrepreneurs



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