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A team of UK students is on its way to Brazil to compete in the finals of the Imagine Cup, an annual programming challenge, open to students around the world.

The UK final - a three day, round-the-clock codeathon - was held in April. Ali Gardezi from the University of Sheffield, Andrew Grieve from the University of Aberdeen, and Mat Steeples from the University of Hull beat more than 4,500 competitors to the prize.

Now they get a chance to go for the top prize of $25,000. Second place would net them $15,000, and third place a still pleasant $10,000.

The brief for the contestants was to work in teams of up to four, to design a smart software system/application that would improve the quality of everyday life, based on the .Net platform. The application had to contain a mobile device, contain some smart component, and create and use at least one Web service.

At the codeathon, the UK champions came up with 'The Juice', an application designed to help students "get the very most out of University life", by which we assume it contains maps to various pubs. Possibly with an interactive element allowing for real time 2-for-1 alerts...

In a press statement distributed by Microsoft, the event's main sponsor, Mat Steeples says: "To be able to go to Brazil and meet other student developers from around the world is just amazing! The UK finals were really tough so Andrew, Ali and I are going to have to pull out all the stops in Brazil."

Dr Stuart Nielsen Marsh, head of academia, Microsoft UK, said he was impressed with the flair and dedication shown at the finals, and was looking forward to seeing how the team meets the challenge in Brazil.

The team has a tough act to follow: last year, the UK entrants came third. ®

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