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Nisti launches innovation challenge for students |05 June 2020

Nisti launches innovation challenge for students

Mr Estico (Photo: Jude Morel)

The National Institute of Technology and Innovation (Nisti) yesterday launched the ‘Open Innovation Challenge to develop solutions for a post-pandemic Seychelles’ competition for students of primary school up to post-secondary institutions, with the aim of encouraging impactful and innovative projects to tackle the current situation and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

The competition, launched under Nisti’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) programme, is a call to action for Seychellois students to join forces to tackle the greatest challenges of our times and co-create impactful and innovative lasting solutions that carry the country and citizens beyond COVID-19. The potential creative solutions will be shared to governmental organisations and private sectors to engage in the challenge.

“Usually around this time, Seychelles is preparing for its participation in the First Global challenge which this year is not possible on account that it is a large gathering. Last year it saw participants from 162 countries, so First Global proposed that participating countries launch a national level competition or challenge.”

“In the context of COVID-19, many projects could address health or hygiene, or to aid the economy. It is important to also look at communities and how they are being impacted by the pandemic. Students have many ideas and we want them to channel their ideas to come up with solutions,” chief executive of Nisti, Xavier Estico, explained.

The objective of the competition is to encourage students to co-create impactful projects in a creative and innovative way as well as to ensure that students are enthusiastic about STEM education and frontier technologies.

Participating students can either enter and submit ideas individually, or along with other students in a group, depending on the nature of the project or idea being submitted. The challenge is open to any type of innovative projects in various categories including social innovation, public sector innovation, workplace innovation, frugal innovation, disruptive innovation, grassroots or sustainable innovation, reverse innovation, process and product innovation and open inclusive innovation.

For interested participants, application forms for registration by June 30, is available online and students can access the form by simply scanning the QR code on the poster or lodging the application through the link provided, as well as on the Nisti website.

“Our philosophy with the STEM programme, one thing which we started, when a project holds some value is to assist in protecting their idea through intellectual property. This is also a way to educate innovators as we do not have a culture of protecting our ideas and there is a big movement to educate people to protect their ideas and if it is to be commercialised, we will assist in doing so,” Mr Estico said.

Commercialisation of ideas is possible through Nisti’s incubator, a project which has been in the pipeline since last year.

For the present moment, the prizes are yet to be revealed, although there will be three categories of prizes at each school level. The decision as to the winning idea will be judged by a committee comprising representatives of the department of health, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development as well as Nisti, although there is a possibility that representative of the department of industry and trade will also appear on the committee.

For the challenge, ideas alone are acceptable and the second phase of the challenge is to pitch the idea to the deciding committee. The pitching is expected to take place towards the end of July.

Nisti manages the Innovation Trust Fund (ITF) and it is hoped that sponsorship will continue so the event can be held annually.

The STEM programme was officially launched in March 2019, with the aim of educating young people and equipping them with knowledge and skills that will eventually be useful to them in the future.

Under the programme, students of primary to secondary are introduced to concepts including basic hands-on computer training, robotics, artificial intelligence, renewable energy, internet of things and air space management in the modern age among other new and emerging technologies, better known as frontier technologies to support the development of the fourth industrial revolution.

The organisation aims to have a STEM programme through the launch of Science Technology and Innovation (STI) clubs with the aim of having a STI club in each secondary school by end 2020.

Projects can be submitted to or

Laura Pillay

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