Imagine Cup Opening Ceremony

Microsoft once again surprises everyone at Imagine Cup with their grand opening ceremony here in Sydney. The ceremony kicked off having Walid Abu-Hadba, VP of Microsoft dev evangelism, giving away three random teams competing in Imagine Cup, free tickets to this upcoming Web Developer's conference wherever and whenever it may be. Walid picked one more team to receive this gift, the Koreans. He said they were the most excited and dancy group of competitors that he had seen. Of  course the Koreans once again showed this side of themselves after the announcement came.

After this crazy frenzy of happiness all around the room, things quieted down. Walid once again restate how Microsoft is all for innovation and it's commitment to help students accomplish their dreams. Next, Microsoft brought the Minister of Education here in Australia. He welcomed all of the competitors and staff to his homeland; then told us of some Australia's fascinating and innovative people it has produced over the years. These people produced  life saving devices that are used daily such as pacemakers, bionic ears, and more.

Following the minister, was Moorthy Uppaluri, GM of Academic Program Microsoft. He discussed some of Imagine Cup's previous winners who have been making a great difference and bringing new technologies to the market. Uppaluri made a great point in his speech, stating "The easiest way to predict the future is to continue to invent it." Making the point that the world and it's market is going to continue and change at whim. So the best way to stay in the game is not by predicting what will happen but to continue to innovate and create new technologies that will benefit others.

After Uppaluri, was the delightful and bubbly, Pip Marlow, GM of Microsoft Australia. She is always a delight to hear from and tonight was no exception. Greeting the crowd and talking of her Kiwi heritage, she reminded us why diversity is essential for innovation. Also she pointed out that more than 20% of this years competitors are women, and just as men can make a difference in this world.

The crowd was astonished to see the following speaker on stage: Jessica Watson. Jessica was the youngest person to traverse around the world via sailing. She was 16 years old when she left her home and sailed for 210 days before she arrived back in Sydney. Jessica shared with the audience some of the struggles she had while sailing, times when she thought the trip and life might end; as well as times of joyment and how amazing it felt when she sailed back into Sydney with everyone there knowing she just completed her dream.

A previous champion of the Imagine Cup shared his story and how much work it takes to get this far. He also pointed out that for a student trying to get their idea out on the market, that pitching is important for these startups and imagine cup can help train you. It was great to have a previous winner sharing his story, and to see the actual success of Imagine Cup in front of us.

By now, I didn't think there was anything else Microsoft could surprise us with. I was wrong. Nokia's Gregory Elphinston came up on the stage and asked "how bad do you guys want a free phone?" At this point, I am just flabbergasted and completely excited. I start to cheer along with all the competitors, the room starts to get really loud. Elphinston announces free Nokia Lumia 800 phones for everyone with sim card and data plan enabled. Well almost everyone, it was awarded solely to the Imagine Cup competitors not the press. Sad and a little down, I walked upstairs to the Press room to have supper. My spirits were quickly rised once again after seeing the assortment of food and my favorite drumsticks! :D

Imagine Cup press releases occur once again tomorrow and then the semi-finals start tomorrow. Stay tuned for all the latest. I will start uploading videos tomorrow as well. Good night and farewell from the Imagine Cup World Wide finals in Sydney, Australia.


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