Innovation, particularly technological innovation, plays a key role in the modern operating environment for organisations of all sizes, by enabling disruptive startups to compete more effectively against established market players for instance.

It is therefore key that students are provided with platforms through which they learn how to apply innovation in order to provide technological solutions to real-world problems.

One such a platform is Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, which is a global student technology competition that provides opportunities for students across all disciplines to team up and use their creativity, passion and knowledge of technology to create applications and games that have the potential to change the way we live, work and play.

“Microsoft Imagine Cup acts as a stage for talented youth to employ their skills to turn innovative ideas into reality. Whether the fruits of their labour takes the form of an entertaining game or a solution addressing a need in their community, Imagine Cup will assist them in delivering an impactful end-product,” says Clifford De Wit, developer experience director at Microsoft South Africa.

Between 26 and 29 July, 35 teams will compete for top honours at the World Finals of the Imagine Cup competition in Seattle in the US.

Among them is the South African team called Digital Interactive Games, consisting of Jason Cross and Nicholas Jordaan.

This duo of second-year Software Development students from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, came up tops in the local leg of Imagine Cup thanks to their game entitled Of Dragons and Sheep. In this fast paced 3D sidescroller game, the hero must save his beloved sheep from the vicious dragons.

To get to this point, more than 150 top teams from National Finals events made it through to the World Semi-finals, where they were judged by a global panel of MVPs, industry experts and Microsoft staff. Only 35 teams from those 150 made it through to the World Finals as their games and solutions were the best or simply the most compelling projects.

“Reaching the World Finals is a fantastic achievement by this team and shows that South African talent is able to compete on any global stage,” says Peacemaker Dlamini, acting director: ICT and services industry from the Department of Science and Technology. “Science and technology can play an effective role in addressing the challenges faced by young people and their communities.

“The department has supported the competition for the past five years and will continue to support initiatives that enable more young people to come up with these kinds of solutions and become entrepeneurs.”

At the World Finals, the remaining teams will compete to be crowned as the champions in their respective categories and the chance to win $50 000. Then, one team will go on to win the coveted Imagine Cup and the grand prize, a private mentoring session with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.