Bindu Shajan Perappadan

AGRA: World's premier student technology competition `Imagine Cup' organised by Microsoft Corp to encourage young people to apply their creativity and passion to technology innovation that can make a difference to the world got underway here on Monday.

Now in its fourth year, the week-long competition this year has over 150 students from 41 countries participating under the theme, "Imagine a world where technology enables us to live healthier lives''.

"The idea behind these competitions is to challenge the world's top student technologists to actively contribute to the mission of improving health around the world under the programme where Microsoft invites young programmers, artists and technologists from around the world to bring their definition of health to life in a multifaceted competition consisting of six categories.

These include software design, algorithm, short film and interface design,'' said Joe Wilson, director of Academic Initiatives, whose team manages the Imagine Cup.

The winning team of the competition in each category will be announced later this week in the Capital.

The teams are competing for a total cash prize of $125,000. As annual events, the competitions were previously held in Spain (2003), Brazil (2004) and Japan (2005).

This year two teams from India are participating in the event under two categories -- software design and interface design. "Encouraging and allowing students to think past their boundaries, this year participating students will demonstrate an amazing combination of passion and creativity for using technology. Competitions including the Imagine Cup allow students to explore technologies and artistic interests outside the classroom. It challenges students to develop innovative projects that offer practical applicability and present real-world solutions to real-world problems,'' said Shiela Gullati , director, developer and platform evangelism, Microsoft India.

The competition has been brought to India by Microsoft Corp, because "India has emerged as the global technology hotbed'', Ms Gulati said, adding that "the fact that India contributes significantly to the development of most next generation technologies and that increasing number of patents are being filed from here are strong indications of this.''