Imagine Cup

First place on the Innovation Accelerator in the Silicon Valley!

It’s been a week since we’ve come home from the Innovation Accelerator in Mountain View. This is the trip that we’ve won on the Microsoft Imagine Cup in Paris, last summer, as special prize. It’s been a great week – we’ve attended numerous priceless sessions and gained a peek into the entrepreneurial life in Silicon Valley. In the end of the week all the teams presented their projects to three venture capitlists – and of the six participant teams (Australia, France, Germany, Slovakia, South Africa and us, Hungary) we were the ones receiving the highest ratings!

Among the sessions were presentations on startups Liftopia, Ribbit, Zoosk, 3Scale and some others. We visited the Plug & Play Centre – an incubator for about 200 startups – a place that seems like lots of fun to work at! Of course there were some Microsoft sessions as well, we had a networking event and all key phases of starting up a company were covered in a presentation series. It’s incredible how much I’ve heard over the week..!

The Hungarian Team on the Innovation Accelerator

The Hungarian Team on the Innovation Accelerator

Innovation Accelerator participants with the three venture capitalists

Before the Innovation Accelerator we’ve taken a week long road trip in California and Nevada. If you’re interested, you can read our blog in Hungarian on the trip here.

First trip to Silicon Valley

In summer 2008 me and three friends representing Hungary as team DigitalMania took part in the Microsoft Imagine Cup competiton in the software design category – one of the largest student technology competitons in the world. The task was to design an implement a solution regarding an environmental issue. We focused on the water problem and created the prototype of a system that aimed to reduce water used for irrigation by taking account various factors such as soil moisture, weather forecasts and custom user defined rules. We used custom hardware (controlling the pipes) and .NET, ASP.NET and Silverlight to for the user interface while developing the solution.

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To test how the system would work in real life we first constructed a mathematical simulation and – after we’ve calculated that savings would be 10-15% even to the soil mositure monitoring system and far more for automatic systems we built a simulation table to monitor and demonstrate the same think in a micro environment.

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Imagine Cup Worldwide 3rd Place and Innovation Accelerator Award!!

I still can’t believe it but it’s true: with team Digitalmania, Hungary we’ve won 3rd place on the Microsoft Imagine Cup world finals in Paris and were one of the 6 teams to receive the Innovation Accelerator prize in the main category, Software Design!! It’s amazing… we are also the first Hungarian team to make it to the top 6 teams on the world finals as well!

7_finalsPresenting at the finals, in the Louvre

The whole competition started a few months ago when we’ve decided to enter the Imagine Cup competiton. We’ve managed to win the Hungarian national round which made us qualify for the world finals among with 60 other teams across the globe. The world finals took place for 6 days. The firs few days there were qualifiers from where 12 teams advanced to the semi-finals. After another round 6 of the 12 teams were selected for the grand final. The qualifiers and semi-finals were closed to the audience, whereas the grand final was in front of about 2,000 people in the Louvre! I never expected to be presenting in front of this many people!

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Imagine Cup Hungary Winners!

The Imagine Cup Hungary finals were held last week at Microsoft headquarters in Budapest. This year’s topic was Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment and there were multiple categories one could enter (including algorithm, games, short film and some other). We’ve entered the “main” category, Software Design. In this category the winners of the national round qualify for the world finals held in Paris this year. And yes… we’ve won and will be representing Hungary in the world finals!!

The Idea

In theSoftware Design category teams of maxium 4 have to create a project for the theme of the competition utilizing Microsoft technologies. We’ve spent weeks brainstorming with what we could develop for this year’s theme and finally came up with a water saving irrigation system. The motivation driving this idea was that we learned that 80% of all sweet water used goes towards irrigation compared to only 7% of sweet water used by households! So if we could save 5% on irrigation that would be equivalent of saving 50% on household water usage and would have a huge impact.

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