Exeter Wins first round of Microsoft Sweepstake of the South West
Unusually warm for Mid-February, The University of Exeter's Student Guild successfully hosted the Southern "heat" of the Microsoft Imagine Cup Appathon. The heat, organised by SETsquared and hosted on the University's Streatham Campus permitted students from across the south of England to compete, including but not limited to Bath, Bristol, Southampton and Surrey, proving just how all encompassing and unique this sizzler of a contest really is.
Running from 5pm on the 15th to the same time on the 17th, the four teams, (three of which were from Exeter and one from Southampton Solent), were given 48 hours to create an app for the future from scratch for mobile, windows or azure.
Deputy Chief Executive of the Student's Guild, Tracy Costello, told the Exeter Express and Echo, "The Microsft Imagine Cup competition is a great opportunity for students to really get an inside edge for their future careers and employability." This is a point echoed by the Head of the University of Exeter's Entrepreneurs Society, Ed Noel and Maths and Computer Science, Samuel Longden whose teams came first and second in the competition respectively. Mr Longden commented that the event would be a good addition to his CV and being able to say that he coded for Microsoft would be beneficial for future jobs. Whilst having been successful at A-level studying a plethora of disciplines (Maths, Further Maths, Politics and Product Design), the Sheffield born President of Exeter's Computer Science Society was still shocked about placing joint second with the makers of Homework Helper. This degree of humility was echoed by his business partner, second year IT Management for Business student Justin Turner who described their working relationship as a friendship - the key to success in business, it later appeared.
Indeed, the winning performances of Exeter's teams both in thier conceptions of the app which were truly inspired as well as their pitches, bringing their ideas to life, is a great sucess for the Student's Guild entrepreneurial support unit, Ignite. The President of the Studen'ts Guild, Nick Davies, summarises this most eloquently, saying that "this event showcased [the teams'] winning combination of entrepreneurship, creativity and versatility."
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The winning Exeter Teams will now compete in the national final of the competition in London this April. If succesful, they will go on to showcase their winning combination of skills at the global final held in Russia this July for the coveted prize of $50, 000.
Whilst this prize seems sky high, the teams have already shown that their vision has no ceiling as many are even looking beyond the competition to selling their apps to a global market. The winning team, for instance, have already pitched their soundsynk app idea to Deloitte in London for their input and improvements. Mr Longden of the team who came joint second, also made it clear that his "Eleventh hour" events app will be designed for windows as well as android with a website accompanying it. Proving that there is everything in a name, the idea itself was conceived at the eleventh hour on the second day of the heated competition.
All three teams know they will have to devote at least five hours a week to the app in the lead up to the finals in London but all seem to have a great work ethic. As Elina Desaine, one of the inventors of HomeworkHelper reinforced when telling The Exeter Express and Echo of her team's success in upgrading everything to Windows 8, downloading all the software and even having done sketches for the layout of the app, all whilst juggling course deadlines.
Interestingly, a second year Maths and Computer Scient student, Rob Parker of the winning team highlighted, none of the Exeter teams had a "game plan". Mr Parker himself signed up just minutes before the competition, but having already known Alex Bochenski beforehand, along with other team member Jonathan Neumann, was able to add the skills and fraternity needed to place first in the first round; This chemistry and the one between Latvian born second year IT Management for Business Student, Elina Desaine, and fellow second year Sam Wood who had also worked together on previous projects, was dually noted right at the beginning of the competition by a representative from Saber.
The SETsquared partnership director commented on the calibre of all this year's entrants, "The level of entries in the competition was very high and proof of the young talent emerging in the UK."
Natasha Joseph, a former Exeter student and now an Academic Marketing Intern for Microsoft, spoke highly of the teams too, "I thought I had seen the best the UK had to offer until I saw the innovation and drive that came from the Exeter Ignite teams." Both these comments combined are prood that the University of Exeter really does deserve its new found place in the Russell Group.
For those students who have been inspired as I have by this competition, you may be interested in going to other events on Campus run by Ignite which can be booked by visiting: