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Kiwi students set to take on the world, starting with Seattle
Wed, 10th Jun 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The three University of Auckland students who designed the app Tether have gained a finalist placing in the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals, to be held in Seattle, USA, at the end of July.

Tether allows users to actively search their extended social network for people with matching skills and connect them with casual jobs.

Students Alyssa Ong, Vivien Lei and Opender Singh won first place with Tether at the 2015 Microsoft NZ Imagine Cup competition in March this year, as well as the Faculty of Science prize at the University of Auckland Spark Entrepreneurship Challenge in May.

They also ranked top of the Innovation category in the Asia-Pacific region for the Imagine Cup World semifinals.

More than 200,000 students participated in Imagine Cup competitions around the world this year, developing software and apps in Gaming, Innovation and World Citizenship categories.

Last month, 150 student projects from 64 countries were evaluated in the Imagine Cup semifinals, with 33 teams announced this week as Imagine Cup World finalists.

Pablo Veramendi, Microsoft Imagine Cup competition manager, said in a blog post announcing the finalists that the quality of ideas that the judges saw was ‘nothing short of incredible'.

“With projects that are entertaining, inspiring and even life-altering, these teams will certainly leave their mark on the world, and to see these teams execute on those ideas and develop working solutions in such a short timeframe is awe inspiring,” he says.

All finalists will now continue to develop and improve their projects to get them ready to present at the World Finals competition at the end of July, for which they will be in with a chance to win cash prizes and a private meeting with Microsoft's global CEO, Satya Nadella.

Nigel Parker, Microsoft New Zealand director of developer experience, also offered his congratulations to team Tether, and noted how the Imagine Cup competition - which runs in New Zealand as part of the locally developed Microsoft Student Accelerator (MSA) programme - is supporting the next wave of New Zealand students into a career in IT and innovation.

“Around 2,000 tertiary students participated in the NZ Imagine Cup competition this year, which is just 1% of the 200,000 participants globally.

“New Zealand has traditionally punched well above our weight in the world Imagine Cup competitions, with Kiwi teams featuring in the top ten teams globally for five out of the past six years,” says Parker.

Most notably, in last year's event, New Zealand team Estimeet won the Innovation category at the global finals in Seattle, taking home a prize of US$50,000, plus a month in the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator programme in London.

“Team Estimeet have also gone on to graduate this year from the Lightning Lab business accelerator programme in Auckland, which goes to show the potential for the young entrepreneurs that participate in the Imagine Cup to continue to make an impact in New Zealand beyond the competition,” says Parker.

“We are delighted to see New Zealand represented again on the world stage by the young entrepreneurs in team Tether, and we wish them all the best for their preparations,” he says.