Channel 4 has revealed that its annual international viral awards Germ, has launched for this year will for the first time give students across the UK an opportunity to study virals as part of their degree course.

Germ, a collaboration between broadcaster Channel 4 and the viral Web site BoreMe.com, encourages everyone to pick up the tools around them - like laptops, cameras and mobile phones - and create a viral that will get the whole world talking, with a chance to win some fantastic prizes. There are three main categories:

Best Video Viral
Best Still Image Viral
Best Interactive Viral

The Germ viral awards are free to enter at www.channel4.com/germ and individuals from all over the world can submit as many entries as they wish. Entries can be submitted from now until the end of March and details on how to submit entries can be found at www.channel4.com/germ. The site also provides advice from industry experts on what makes a good viral. Last year’s winners included Neil Hepburn, who won the Best Still Image viral with a spoof signpost outside Camden Town tube station directing visitors to 'Charity Muggers' and 'Skunk', and Dick Thompson, who won the Best Video Viral with an entertaining domino toppling style clip involving thousands of cigarette packets. Entries for last year’s winners/runners-up can be seen at www.channel4.com/germ.

One winner from each category will receive a main prize and have their work seen by millions around the world. There is also one runner up prize for each category. In addition, the winner’s and runners-up entries, as well as the shortlisted entries, will be showcased at the annual Germ viral exhibition at London’s ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) which, in 2006, broke attendance records for a digital exhibition. The next Germ viral exhibition at the ICA is scheduled to take place later in 2007.

The Germ judging panel, made up of prominent practitioners from the online and broadcast industries, will select a shortlist of finalists which will be put up for a public vote from the beginning of April 2007.

The viral phenomenon has permeated society to such a degree that its link to graphic communication and related contemporary media has become an increasingly relevant part of many Arts & Design courses. Initially, BoreMe.com will be working with 7 courses to integrate Germ into relevant Graphics, Design and Advertising degrees via projects, workshops and presentations. Colleges involved include Kingston University (BA (Hons) Graphics and BA (Hons) Illustration & Animation), Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design (BA (Hons) Graphic Design), Leeds Metropolitan University (BA (Hons) Graphic Arts), London College of Communication (BA (Hons) Graphic & Media Design) and the University of Central England (BA (Hons) Media & Communication - Web & New Media). Students will be allowed to submit their work as part of their coursework as well as entering it into Germ.

Jo Addison, education co-ordinator, BoreMe.com, says: "Graphic communication and related contemporary media are key to any Arts & Design course. For that reason Germ is an ideal live brief that is delivered to students to give them the opportunity to meet the requirements for their course, as well as put their work into the professional and public realm. Germ is particularly appropriate because most students are already masters of viral language. However, rather than seeing them as illicit deviations in the computer suite, Germ asks them to study the phenomenon in the context of their education."

www.channel4.com/germ
www.boreme.com