Auckland students have wowed Microsoft top brass, with an online platform which connects home-chefs with consumers to help find healthy home-cooked meals.
The app, named "Clove", aims to revolutionise the way consumers interact with food, by enabling thriving, diverse and healthy food ecosystems across all communities, the team - University of Auckland students Hayley Yu, Edwin Tsang and Duoyi Xu - told the Imagine Cup competition.
The IT competition was held in Auckland last night as part of the 2016 Microsoft Student Accelerator showcase.
The students took home the top prize for their design, pocketing $5000, and are now in with the chance to compete in the Asia-Pacific regional round of the global Imagine Cup competition.
They wowed with their thorough development and real life implementation, said the judging panel - made up of some of New Zealand's top tech and innovation leaders, including Dr Michelle Dickinson, also known as "Nanogirl" and co-founder of OMGTech, Michael Brick, corporate affairs director for Microsoft NZ, Mark Gilbert the US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, and Greg Davidson the CEO of Datacom.
They were particularly impressed by how well the team had developed and thought through the Clove concept, Mr Brick said, with real-life trials and refinements along the way that had already led to interest from chefs and customers.
"Team Clove showed us a professionally-orchestrated idea from start to finish. They have created a piece of technology that has real potential to be genuinely disruptive to the food industry, and make a positive impact on the community," Mr Brick said.
Seven teams were finalists in last night's competition, which required students to create apps or software that meet a genuine human need in categories of either Innovation or World Citizenship.
Second place and a $4000 prize went to team That's It, whose app "ZeroQ" provides stores with a platform where customers use their smartphones to avoid waiting in line using QR codes and barcode scanning.
Third place and $2000 went to team Free Will, whose "HoloDesign" app lets shoppers see what furniture products would look like in their home or office by projecting 3D models onto real-time images through augmented reality.
Fourth place and $1000 went to team Blaze for their project "Athena", an interactive learning tool that helps students test their knowledge early and hassle free.
Microsoft NZ's director of developer experience, Nigel Parker, said since the programme began three years ago it has been helped students put into practice what they learn in university and how it can be used in the workplace.
"The issue for students is that they need experience to get jobs, but they can't get jobs without experience, and this is most pertinent in IT," he said.
"With the Microsoft Student Accelerator programme students develop deeper technical skills, but more importantly they learn how to work in a team to solve customer problems."
* For more information about the Microsoft Student Accelerator programme, visit http://msa.ms