Three of New Zealand's most entrepreneurial university students will be heading home from the United States next week with some amazing memories and experiences.

Duoyi Xu, 21, Hayley Yu, 22, and Edwin Tsang, 20, went head-to-head with 34 other teams from around the world this week, all vying to win Microsoft's technology competition - the Imagine Cup. The team's project, Clove, is a multi-platform app and website that allows consumers to have meals delivered while home-based cooks can improve their business and test recipes. Despite not securing a win, the team said the experience had been incredible.

"[It] was an amazing experience to interact with the most amazing student ideas in the world and be exposed to how these projects can make a meaningful impact in our world," the team said. "We are extremely grateful for this opportunity and hope to still continue taking our idea forward."

Now in its 14th year, the Imagine Cup sees high school and university students develop a project using Microsoft technology and compete in one of three categories - Innovation, Games or World Citizenship. Teams compete in national finals before going on to the World Semi Finals. Winners from this then head to Microsoft's hometown of Seattle, courtesy of the company, to compete on a global stage. Since the competition was launched in 2003, nearly 1.8 million students from 190 countries have competed.


Having won the New Zealand and Asia Pacific finals, the University of Auckland students flew to Seattle this week. While there, the trio got to meet teams from around the world, try out Microsoft's famed virtual reality headset Hololens, and demo their project to Microsoft staff.

According to Xu, the Food Act 2014, which came into force in March, resulted in a number of changes that meant Clove could work.

"It's a really exciting time for New Zealand's food landscape," Xu said last week. "The Act sets out a series of rules that provide for [businesses like Clove], so anyone that wants to start selling food from their home kitchen can," he said.

Since launching, the team has conducted 10 pilots with cooks who have signed up to the programme, with dishes from a range of cuisines. Clove has established partnerships with local businesses including KPMG, Deloitte and Datacom to deliver food into Auckland's CBD and is looking to expand further this year.

Winners from each of the three categories were presented with a cheque for US$50,000 by Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella. They will move on to the Championship round tomorrow where one team will be crowned World Champion and will have a one on one mentoring session with Nadella.



First - Thailand, PH21
Second - Indonesia, None Developers
Third - Brazil, Tower Up



First - Romania, ENTy
Second - Sri Lanka, Bit Masters
Third - US, Healthx

World Citizenship:

First - Greece, AMANDA
Second - Tunisia, Night's Watch
Third - Hungary, InSimu

- Holly Ryan travelled to the Imagine Cup in Seattle courtesy of Microsoft.