The Imagine Cup was officially begun this evening in Warsaw, Poland as each of the 400 contestants were brought together outside the city's famous Palace of Culture, gathered together in a truly global way.
Each team is competing against the others, though the sheer sense of enthusiasm and camaraderie displayed in the opening ceremony was nothing but inspiring; in its own way becoming a prophecy for the rest of the Cup.
Amongst a sea of smiling, happy faces can also be seen discussion and the sharing of ideas; postulating their own concepts and absorbing from others from an entirely different country.
|Contestants line up on the steps of the Palace of Culture for photos, cheering and celebrating the start of the Cup.
Introducing the Imagine Cup facilitators
From here the competitors moved to a seating area in front of a large stage, upon which Microsoft Poland General Manager Jacek Murawski welcomed all to the opening of the Imagine Cup.
Jacek highlighted the fact that each contestant at the ceremony had been selected from an original pool of 325,000 entrants - graciously declaring to them that even if they did not win, they were still among the best in the world (and indeed they are, each having defeated over 800 others).
Next on the stage was Polish Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak, who was followed by Microsoft General Education Manager Jon Perera as each explained the importance of technology in a changing world.
A gigantic pair of novelty scissors and ribbon later, accompanied by a burst of streamers from a hidden cannon, and the Imagine Cup had officially begun once and for all.
|The Imagine Cup is officially opened.
As a cultural window into the society in Poland, local band Zakopower took the stage to play an eclectic mix of instruments whose wildly different cacophonies and styles meshed together in the same way as these contestants will over the next week.
The sheer sense of energy percolating throughout the Imagine Cup is impressive, so stay tuned over the next few days as the judging hits a fever pitch. Until it does, jump into our gallery of photos to see a little more of the opening ceremony.