Software Design Competition

The Software Design invitational challenges students to explore their own creativity by using technology to solve what they consider to be challenging problems facing our global society. The Imagine Cup provides the incentive, but the student competitors provide the genius behind innovative, dynamic, and powerful software applications. Using Microsoft tools and technology, competitors can unleash their ideas, curiosities, and talents towards creating usable software applications. Student competitors are asked to demonstrate innovation on the .NET Framework, Windows Mobile and Windows platform, but the possibilities only begin here. Globally, students will conceive, test, and build their ideas into applications that can change the world. Many former winners go on to start their own companies, work at major corporations, and even integrate their projects into real products. Once you win your regional semi-finals you will advance to the Microsoft Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in Cairo, to be held in July 2009.

Software Design

Welcome Imagine Cup 2009 competitors!

This year's theme is "Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today." The United Nations has identified some of the hardest challenges in the world today in its Millennium Goals. This year the Imagine Cup uses these ambitious challenges as a guiding light to inspire change all over the world. Learn more about the eight Millennium Goals. We know you are ready to meet this amazing challenge, and we can't wait to hear about the innovative solutions you create!

Competition Guidelines

***The Competition details have been updated!***

The start and end date for the Software Design Competition have been revised to accommodate the launch of registration. Please read the revised Imagine Cup Rules and Regulations below for full details. Updated on August 29, 2008.

KEEP IN MIND: If you choose to submit an entry in this Competition, then you agree that your participation in this Competition is subject to the following:

  • The Imagine Cup Rules and Regulations.
  • The Imagine Cup Software Design World Wide Competition Details (WW Competition Details) described below; and
  • Any applicable Imagine Cup Software Design Local Competition Rules (Local Rules) posted on your country / region's web site. A full list of Web sites of countries hosting Software Design teams will be posted soon.
  • If there are any inconsistencies between the Imagine Cup Rules and Regulations, the Imagine Cup Terms of Use, the Imagine Cup Code of Conduct, these WW Competition Details, and the Local Rules, the Imagine Cup Rules will govern.

What Are the Start and End Dates?

Imagine Cup Launch
We will be launching Imagine in 11 universities across the Gulf, in these selected universities the Imagine Cup launch campaign will run across 2 days, the first day students will be receiving giveaways that triggers their imagination and creativity, like water bottles that have a sticker saying over 2 billion people lack access to drinking water sign up for one world sign up for Imagine cup, on the next day we will have an Imagine Cup registration booth for students to register each student who registers will receive an Imagine Cup Mug, a brochure on Imagine Cup and will receive a sign Up marker to sign the Imagine Cup Wall that will be moving across the universities into the global finals. Students will also be invited into a session on the same day talk about Imagine Cup, and show them what it takes to win. We will also have a 10 min Demo on the latest technologies.

Imagine Cup Project Proposal deadline
The first week of February will be the deadline for all the student teams to submit their project proposal for the Software Design category in Imagine Cup.
Project Proposal: will be a 1 to 3 page/s document that have the teams description (student names, contact details [email - mobile], universities, country, mentor contact details), a description of their idea, the prototype visualization and description they will submit in the regional and global finals, a description of all the materials they will be developing for their project like Videos, brochures, prototypes,… and a description of all the technologies to be used to develop their Idea. Students are not required to actually program their Idea however they are required to develop a working prototype or scenario.

Imagine Cup Short listed Teams
By end of February we will be short listing the teams that will participate in the regional finals that will take place in Dubai, these teams will have to start working seriously on their project in order to make it to the global finals

Imagine Cup Boot Camp
Short listed teams for Imagine Cup will be invited to participate in the Imagine Cup Boot Camp that will prepare them technically and from soft skill point of view to compete on a global level, we will invite a judging panel and students will have to present their projects several times a day until they become the champs.

Imagine Cup Regional Finals
In the end of April we will run the Imagine Cup regional finals and select up to 3 teams to represent the country in the global finals taking place in Egypt, the regional finals will take place over a 2 day period of time, Students will have a welcome party of the first day and will go into the competition on the second day in front of a VIP Jury from the industry and education

Imagine Cup show on CNBC
We will be having an Imagine Cup show on CNBC every Thursday at 9:00 pm Dubai time of each month tackling Imagine Cup launch, Interviews with the short listed student teams, Imagine Cup Boot Camp, Imagine Cup regional Finals and Imagine Cup Global finals


Registration will begin on August 29, 2008 at 12:01 AM GMT, and ends on March 1, 2009, at 11:59 PM GMT ("Registration Period").

If you wish to participate in this Invitational, you must register at , as instructed during the Registration Period, either individually, or as a member of a Team. If you wish register as an individual, at time of registration, you will need to create a Team and join it as an individual. If you wish to register as a member of a Team, at time of registration, you must identify your Team. You cannot change Teams or otherwise remove yourself or anyone else from your Team after the close of the Registration Period. Team will launch in August 2008.

A team may consist of up to four (4) eligible students (each a "Team"). Your Team does not need to consist of members who are legal residents of the same country/region, or students at the same school, but your Team can only represent one (1) country/region. It is recommended, but not required, that you have one (1) mentor for your Team in addition to your four (4) Team members. Limit one (1) mentor per Team.


Round 1 - Local Invitationals

Please see your Local Rules for specific entry requirements. A list of local rules will be posted soon.

Worldwide Finals
For purposes of the Worldwide Finals of this Invitational, your entry will consist of the following:

  • A software application
  • Up to four (4) live presentations of the software application

Your entry must comply with the following content and technical requirements:

  • Your entry must be a fully functioning and implemented software application (i.e., visions for a software application or software applications that are not fully developed are not eligible) that includes all of the Required Elements listed below and at least one (1) of the Optional Requirements listed below.

Required Elements

  • Your entry must address a social cause connected to the Imagine Cup 2009 Theme: "Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today".
  • Any presentation or documentation that is a part of your entry must be in the English language. If a translator is needed, you will have the opportunity to provide one.
  • Use of a Mobile device;
  • Implementation or consumption of a XML Web Service;
  • .NET Framework 2.0 or later;
  • Visual Studio family (Express, Standard, Professional, or Team System) for development

Optional Elements


Round 1
Please see your Local Rules for specific entry submission requirements.

Worldwide Finals

We will provide instructions on how to submit your required entry materials for Round 3.


We will only accept one (1) entry per Team.


Round 1: Please see your Local Rules for specific judging criteria.

Worldwide Finals: Judging will take place in three (3) phases as follows:

Phase 1: Each Team will present its entry in the form of a twenty (20) minute presentation to two separate judging panels. Based on the judging criteria set forth below, the judges will assess each Team. At the end of Phase 1, we will tally the scores, and the top twelve (12) Teams will advance to Phase 2 of the Worldwide Finals.

Phase 2: Each of the up to twelve (12) remaining Teams will present its entry in the form of a twenty (20) minute presentation to another judging panel consisting of different judges. Based on the judging criteria set forth below, these judges will assess each Team. At the end of Phase 2, we will tally the scores, and the top six (6) Teams will advance to Phase 3 of the Worldwide Finals.

Phase 3: Each of the six (6) remaining Teams will present its entry in the form of a twenty (20) minute presentation on-stage to another judging panel consisting of different judges. Based on the judging criteria set forth below, these judges will assess each Team. At the end of Phase 3, we will tally the scores and announce the First Place, Second Place, and Third Place Teams.

Worldwide Finals Judging Criteria

  • 10% Problem Definition: How precise and relevant is the real world problem chosen by the team?
  • 10% Consistency: How well does the project adhere to the 2009 Imagine Cup Theme?
  • 10% Innovation: Does the application approach a new problem, or look at an old problem in a new way?
  • 10% Impact: Does the application either impact a large number of people very broadly, or impact a smaller number of people very deeply?
  • 10% Effectiveness: To what degree does the application solve the problem in question?
  • 10% User Experience: To what degree are the HCI (Human Computer Interfaces) intuitive, ergonomic and user friendly?
  • 10% Extendibility: Is the project technically open for evolution?
  • 10% Complexity Management: How well does the solution assemble and handle all the technologies and techniques used to solve the problem?
  • 10% Functional Completeness: Is the project implemented, working, and "demonstration-ready"?
  • 10% Presentation: The judges will be looking for oral presentations that provide background and context to the project, explain why the problem is an interesting one, highlight how the system works, and include an insightful demonstration. Teams will also be evaluated on their ability to take questions from the judging panel.

Worldwide Finals Scoring System

A simple numerical scoring system will be used. Each judge will give for each judging element a score varying from 0-10. All scores will be normalized per Judge in order to increase fairness.

  • Imagine Cup Launch
  • From : 23 October 2008 To : 30 November 2008
  • Project Proposal Deadline
  • From : 1 February 2009 To : 5 February 2009
  • Short listed teams on CNBC through the Imagine Cup show
  • End of February
  • Regional Finals
  • From : 23 April 2009    To : 25 April 2009
  • Global Finals
  • July


Round 1: Please see your Local Rules for specific prizing. All Finalists will receive a prize package that consists of the following items:

  • A 6-month subscription to the E-Reference Developer Library (ARV, $75 USD). The 6-month subscription must be used June - November 2009.
  • Finalists will receive a trip to Cairo, Egypt to compete in the Worldwide Imagine Cup 2009 Finals. Trip includes round trip air travel, hotel accommodations and select meals.

Worldwide Finals

  • First Place: $25,000 USD
  • Second Place: $10,000 USD
  • Third Place: $5,000 USD

Regional Finals

  • XBOX Elite, Windows Mobile® Phone or Laptop
  • Ticket and accommodation for 5 days in Egypt to participate in the global finals
  • Win the Gulf Imagine "Cup" or trophy