Calling All AI Innovators – Join the ‘Cloud AI Challenge’ for a Chance to Win $25,000

This post is authored by Vani Mandava, Director of Data Science at Microsoft Research.

The AI revolution is poised to unleash unprecedented innovation and impact on our society. Several research and development groups across Microsoft have hit their stride in delivering world-changing impact through the power of AI. Working together, we are creating a comprehensive Microsoft AI platform and a set of AI services that will enable the next generation of intelligent applications that will augment human intelligence.

The AI buzz has been impossible to miss at numerous conferences that Microsoft has participated in during the past year. AI was pervasive at the massive HPC conference, SC17, traditionally a supercomputing conference swarmed by the scientific computing community. Attendees spent an entire day during the Cloud Computing for Science and Engineering tutorial learning how to build parallel and scalable scientific applications in the cloud using Jupyter notebooks through the Data Science Virtual Machine. Attendees also got an opportunity to test-drive the new Azure Machine Learning tools, which provide a powerhouse of open source -based tools to build AI enabled applications.

In this context, we are thrilled to announce an exciting new Cloud AI Challenge and would like to invite the community to submit cool AI applications that use Microsoft's AI platform and services for a chance to win $25,000!

Learn more about this challenge in this blog post.

The Microsoft AI Platform

Microsoft offers a comprehensive AI platform with powerful machine learning capabilities and AI services that have been battle-hardened in products such as Skype, Bing, Cortana and more. Many newer aspects of our platform were announced at the Ignite and Connect(); 2017 conferences over the past few months. Technologies such as program synthesis (PROSE)and data cleaning that originated in Microsoft Research are now an integral part of our AI platform offering. In addition, there have been several significant updates to our Cognitive Services and the Bot Service.

Our goal with the AI platform, services and tools is to democratize AI. When combined with the data explosion, intelligent edge computing, extensive support for deep learning and powerful data management techniques, these AI services are expected to lead us to the next frontier of cognitive applications.

The Cloud AI Research Challenge

Microsoft Research has consistently worked with the research community to help provide technical on-ramps to researchers and graduate students. Programs such as Azure for Research have enabled thousands of researchers to experiment with and develop collaborative research applications in the cloud. We are excited to expand our audience through this newest challenge and would like to invite developers and researchers to use Microsoft's AI services to build applications that demonstrate how human capabilities can be augmented with the power of Microsoft Cloud AI.

We especially look forward to applications that explore and demonstrate how Microsoft AI services can work together to infuse intelligence into data in the cloud or on edge devices. This can be through intelligent applications that combine one or more AI services such as bots, language, speech, vision and knowledge services, batch AI -based deep learning, and use advanced techniques in machine learning and containerized implementations to demonstrate novel AI capabilities with the potential to bring about disruptive change.

The Challenge requires that developers and researchers submit a working, interactive web application that utilizes one or more services listed in along with a short video and a document explaining key features and technical details of their application. Top submissions will be featured prominently on the Microsoft site and will be considered for two first prizes of $25,000 each, and second and third prizes of $15,000 and $10,000 each.

The website has complete Challenge rules and submission details.

The Challenge is open to all, including academic researchers, AI developers and traditional programmers. In addition, if you are associated with a university, Microsoft is granting cloud computing resources to aid researchers and students who wish to take part in the Challenge. To be considered for these resources, which are in the form of Azure credits, university researchers and students can submit a one-page proposal describing how these credits will be used in their projects. All academics are eligible for cloud credits as long as they submit a proposal to the online submission tool before February 15, 2018. For those not eligible for these credits, note that Azure is available to try for free.


  • February 15, 2018 : Deadline to submit request for cloud credits (academics only).
  • April 15, 2018: Deadline to submit interactive AI application (open to all).

Please refer to the Cloud AI Challenge webpage and reach out to us at if you have questions.

We cannot wait to see what you come up with!