Microsoft is inviting IT professionals in the UK to submit their designs for computer systems that demonstrate creativity and deliver value to businesses or public sector and not-for-profit organisations. The DesignIT competition was launched last week and has two categories.

To enter the business-oriented DesignIT category, IT professionals need to submit designs that they have created along with a brief description of their benefits. The winner will get an all expenses paid trip to the Ice Hotel in Sweden.

The DesignIT for charity category is aimed at people who support a small or local charity and want to give it some extra help. IT professionals are invited to submit a system design to a budget of £15,000 for a charity of their choice. A team of Microsoft engineers will build the winning design for the charity for free.

Designs short-listed as finalists will be exhibited at the Arndean Gallery, Cork Street, London from Tuesday May 30 to Friday June 9. The judging panel includes Microsoft technology evangelist Robert Scoble and independent UK-based IT consultant John Craddock.

“IT is now a central part of all our lives,” said Bruce Lynn, director of server technologies at Microsoft UK and chair of the DesignIT judging panel at the launch of the competition last week. “Whether it’s through the PC sat on the office desk or the in-car satellite navigation system that guides you home, the practical ‘nuts and bolts’ contributions of IT professionals are clear, but the creativity they apply is often less appreciated. DesignIT is about giving IT professionals the recognition they deserve for being great designers and innovators.”

At the launch of the competition, Microsoft cited figures from IDC that say that IT is now one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing industries. There are currently over 1.5 million people employed in the IT sector in the UK. By 2008 there will be nearly 70,000 UK IT companies and nearly two million people employed in the IT sector as a whole.

Closing date for entries Wednesday 3rd May. Full details of the competition and information on how to enter can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/designIT