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Microsoft’s Imagine Cup is a global technology competition that empowers students to create applications that shape how we live, work, and play. Every year, teams from around the world compete for the chance to showcase their work, win free travel, mentorship from Microsoft experts, priceless networking opportunities, and other great prizes.

The Imagine Cup is looking for the best and brightest tech solutions from students who want to share their passion to improve the world around us. Whether you’ve already registered or are still considering bringing your idea to a global stage, this guide has the info you need to get started on your Imagine Cup journey.

TLDR;

The five steps you need to take to enter the 2020 Imagine Cup:

  1. Register
  2. Form a team of one to three people
  3. Come up with a project idea
  4. Use Azure for Students to build your concept
  5. Submit your project to the online semi-final by the date listed for your region:

Region

Online Submission Due

Finalists Announced

Regional Final

Asia

December 1, 2019

January 3, 2020

February 19-21 in Singapore

EMEA

December 15, 2019

January 15, 2020

March 10-12 in Amsterdam

Americas

January 15, 2020

February 15, 2020

March 29-31 in Mexico City

The top teams from the online Regional Semifinals will advance to the in-person Regional Final, and the top two teams from each Regional Final will travel to the Imagine Cup World Championship in Seattle, date TBD, for the chance to win USD100,000 cash, USD50,000 in Azure credit, and a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Read the official competition rules for more details.

How the Competition Works

The 2020 Imagine Cup competition consists of four key phases: Registration and Submission, Online Regional Semifinals or Local Finals, Regional Finals, and the World Championship. Check out each below and review the official rules for more detail.

Registration and Project Submission

These are the key steps and resources you need to ensure your entry to the 2020 Imagine Cup is complete:

  1. Register online at microsoft.com
  2. Form a team of one to three students—if you’re not sure how to create a team, try connecting with other students in your local community groups or at hackathons. Fun fact: some of the 2019 Imagine Cup Regional Finalist teams first met at University hackathons, started building their idea, and then traveled the world to compete!
  3. Brainstorm your project idea, then start creating and iterating. Need project inspiration? Check out the Imagine Cup YouTube channel to see pitches from past Imagine Cup teams.
  4. Use Azure for Students and Microsoft Learn to build key cloud skills, like AI and Machine Learning, and bring your project to life.
  5. Film your pitch video—pretend you’re presenting to live judges and show you and your teammates presenting on camera. Ensure your pitch is crisp and articulate (and 3 minutes or less!), and film in a quiet space to help with sound quality.
  6. Submit your project to your regional competition. Just log in to your Imagine Cup account, click submit, and follow the prompts. Your account page will provide information about the local or regional competition phase you’re entering.

Region

Online Submission Due

Finalists Announced

Regional Final

Asia

December 1, 2019

January 3, 2020

February 19-21 in Singapore

EMEA

December 15, 2019

January 15, 2020

March 10-12 in Amsterdam

Americas

January 15, 2020

February 15, 2020

March 29-31 in Mexico City

Note: Some countries may choose to host local Imagine Cup Finals. Once you’ve registered, your account page will reflect all the information you need to know, including submission dates for the competition in your country or region.

Online Regional Semifinals

Once you’ve submitted your project online, our expert judges will review every submission using the criteria listed in the official rules and regulations. There are five main criteria:

  1. Technology
  2. Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
  3. Innovation
  4. Concept
  5. Feasibility

The top teams (maximum of ten) from each Region will be announced on the dates listed above and invited to attend their Regional Final.

In-person Regional Finals

The 2020 Imagine Cup is hosting three in-person regional finals for Asia, EMEA, and the Americas in Singapore, Amsterdam, and Mexico City (see table above). Teams advancing to their Regional Final will win travel courtesy of Microsoft to compete in front of a live panel of judges.

Bonus: Regional Finalist teams will receive mentorship from Microsoft experts, in-person pitch training prior the competition, and have the chance to pitch their projects to industry professionals and get real time feedback during Microsoft Ignite | The Tour!

The top two teams from each Regional Final will receive USD8,000, Azure credits, and travel to the next round. The three runner-up teams from each Regional Final will receive USD2,500 and Azure credits.

The World Championship

The top 2 teams from each Regional Final will travel to Seattle (date TBD) to compete in the Imagine Cup World Championship. The winner will receive USD 100,000 cash, USD50,000 in Azure grants, and a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Resources

Now that you’re up to speed on all the things, here are some resources you may find helpful:

The Imagine Cup is more than just a tech competition. It’s a chance to work with friends, gain new skills, and meet other students from across the globe who want to make a difference. We can’t wait to see what you create!

1 Comment
Frequent Contributor
Thanks for the Brief Blog