Microsoft Cloud AI Research Challenge

Deadline: 15 April 2018
Open to: international applicants from all disciplines and methodologies
Grants: the awards will consist of two grand prizes, one second place, one third place


The Cloud AI Research Challenge invites any researcher—from students to academics to employees of public and private organizations—to build AI applications on Microsoft AI services, and the two best will be awarded USD 25,000. This challenge asks you to use at least one of Microsoft AI-supporting services, including Azure Machine Learning, Cognitive Services, Data Science VM, Batch AI, Bot Framework, and others. These services feature the latest advancements in developing for AI on Azure.

Show them what you can do with Microsoft AI services like Azure Machine Learning, Cognitive Services, Data Science VM, Batch AI, and Bot Framework.

The challenge is looking  for demonstrable applications that use the newly released set of powerful services that promote AI development through open source services on Microsoft Azure. Applications are invited for, but not limited to, the following areas of interest:

  • Azure Machine Learning
    • Example: Build models with labeled data to train and intelligently sense, process, and act on information to create applications that augment human capabilities.
  • Cognitive Services
    • Example: Infuse your apps, websites, and bots with intelligent algorithms to see, hear, speak, understand, and interpret your user needs through natural methods of communication.
  • Data Science
    • Example: Create a friction-free end-to-end data science workflow using pre-installed Data Science Virtual Machines to build applications that rely on data analytics, machine learning, and AI training.
  • Container Service
    • Example: Quickly provision and efficiently scale clusters to maximize resource utilization without container orchestration expertise.
  • Batch AI
    • Example: Deploy virtual machines, containers, and connect your shared storage to train against any AI framework/deep learning library.
  • Bot Framework
    • Example: Build dialog systems with open source Bot Builder SDKs.


They invite teams of university researchers, students, and employees of public and private organizations to participate. Your team will create a working, interactive software application, in any domain, as long as it’s an intelligent system using data and the Microsoft AI platform.

The challenge is open to all disciplines and methodologies. They want to encourage the submission of applications from across disciplines.
If you are not affiliated with an academic institution, your submission must meet one of the following requirements:

  1. Individuals who are at least 18 years of age at the time of entry;
  2. Teams of eligible individuals;
  3. Teams entering on behalf of organizations (including corporations, not-for-profit corporations and other nonprofit organizations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and other legal entities) that exist and have been organized or incorporated at the time of entry and employ no more than 50 people (“Organizations”);
  4. Teams entering on behalf of organizations that employ more than 50 people (“Large Organizations”), though such Large Organizations are only eligible for the Large Organization Recognition Award;

Team criteria

  1. If a team or organization is entering the Challenge, they must appoint and authorize one individual (the “Representative”) to represent, act, and enter an Application on their behalf. The Representative must meet the eligibility requirements noted earlier in this document. By entering an Application on the Site on behalf of a team or organization, you represent and warrant that you are the Representative authorized to act on behalf of your team or organization;
  2. An individual may join more than one team, Organization, or Large Organization and an individual who is part of a team, Organization, or Large Organization may also enter the Challenge on an individual basis;

The following are not eligible for the Challenge: 

  1. Individuals who are residents of, or Organizations or Large Organizations domiciled in, a country, state, province or territory where the laws of the United States or local law prohibits participating or receiving an Award in the Challenge (including, but not limited to, Brazil, Quebec, Italy, Cuba, Sudan, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and any other country designated by the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control);
  2. Any parent company, subsidiary, or other affiliate* of any organization described above;
  3. Any other individual or organization whose participation in the Challenge would create, in the sole discretion of the judges, a real or apparent conflict of interest;
  4. Employees of Microsoft and contractors currently under contract work for Microsoft are not eligible.


  1. Microsoft will select four (4) winning applications.
  2. The awards will consist of two (2) USD 25,000 grand prize awardees, one (1) USD 15,000 second place, and one (1) USD 10,000 third place.

How to Apply?

For the final submission, each submission entry requires a written document, an interactive web application, and a video that must be all submitted before April 15, 2018.


1. Create a working, interactive web application that utilizes one or more services listed under

2. You must submit a document using the template provided and include the following:

  1. Biographical information and contact information for each member of the team. This should include a brief description of any relevant prior research, publications, or other professional experience.
  2. Project abstract with a description of the Application and statement about the problem that was solved.
  3. Technical description of the project that states the project’s broader significance, goals, and scope of the research or Application.
  4. Features and functionality of the Application.
  5. Images that are photographs or screenshots of your working Application.

You can see all following requirements on this link

  1. Create a video (the “Video”) that gives a visual and comprehensive demonstration and clearly explains your Application’s features and functionality.
  2. Upload the Video to YouTube or Vimeo.
    1. The video must run on at least one of the following web browsers:
      • Internet Explorer
      • Firefox
      • Google Chrome
      • Apple Safari
      • Android device (such as a smartphone, tablet, Google Glass, etc.)
    2. The total length should be less than three (3) minutes.
    3. Includes footage of a comprehensive demonstration that clearly explains the Application’s features and functionality.
    4. Must not include third party trademarks, or copyrighted music or other material unless the Submitter has permission to use such material.
  3. Submit your video URL and Document in one email to by April 15, 2018, midnight, to be considered for the prizes.

For more information please visit the official website.