ACCOLADES

Young Kenyan innovators scoop Microsoft’s Imagine Cup award

The championship aims at empowering students to use their imagination and passion for technology to develop innovative and inclusive solutions that tackle key societal issues.

In Summary
  • Held in virtual format this year in light of the health safety recommendations, World Finalists pitched their projects during Microsoft Build’s inaugural digital event.
  • The grand prize included $100,000, a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and $50,000 in Azure grants
Micheal left and Ken explain to the JKUAT Tech Expo guest how the weeding bot works scaled
Image: COURTESY

Two Kenyan students from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology are continental winners of the 18th annual Imagine Cup Competition.

Michael Mwaisakenyi and Kenneth Gichira created an automated robot using artificial intelligence to identify and remove weeds from rows of crops.

Their solution uses cameras as sensors to gather input from the environment and eliminate farmers' need to use environmentally harmful pesticides in their weeding.

As part of winning the regional finals, the team won $8000 each. Prizes also included Azure credits and a spot in the Imagine Cup World Championship event.

The annual competition saw thousands of students across the world submitting innovations to impact their communities, both locally and globally. The competition advanced through hackathons, online semi-finals, and virtual regional final events, bringing together finalists via Microsoft Teams.

According to Kendi Nderitu, country manager for Microsoft in Kenya, the championship has always aimed to empower students to use their imagination and passion for technology to develop innovative and inclusive solutions that tackle key societal issues.

‘’We are extremely proud of The Knights, who by making it to the championship event, have reaffirmed Kenya and Africa’s immense potential to create solutions that directly address socio-economic needs within industries such as the agricultural sector,” Nderitu said.

Held in virtual format this year in light of the health safety recommendations, World Finalists pitched their projects during Microsoft Build’s inaugural digital event.

This year the event was judged by innovation experts spanning a variety of technology, diversity, and social change-centered experiences that align to the core of Imagine Cup’s mission.

Judges selected Team Hollo as the winners. The team, from the University of Hong Kong, won the grand prize for their mental health companion web app leveraging Azure analytics and AI services to advance youth therapy practices.

The grand prize included $100,000, a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and $50,000 in Azure grants.