Nisti: Primary schools jump to call for Open Innovation Challenge | 04 September 2020
27 projects pitched
Students from various primary schools across Seychelles yesterday pitched their innovative solutions project to a panel of judges for the ‘Open Innovation Challenge; Developing innovative solutions for a pandemic and post-pandemic Seychelles’ competition launched by the National Institute for Science, Technology And Innovation (Nisti) on June 6.
The challenge, launched for the first time under Nisti’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (Stem) programme, seeks to bring together school students to join forces to tackle the greatest challenges of our times and co-create impactful and innovative lasting solutions to carry the country beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite not having launched Stem clubs at primary school level yet on account of limited resources, many primary schools jumped to the call, with a total twenty-seven projects submitted by individual and groups of students, all of whom pitched their projects to the panel of judges comprising chief executive of Nisti Xavier Estico, programme officer at the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (MEECC) Clive Clarisse, senior analyst programmer at the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Ruth Mohototti and Anita Bonne of the Public Health Authority. The event took place at the Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education (Site).
Among the projects were innovative solutions and technology to facilitate social distancing within schools and other public institutions as well as other solutions geared towards hygiene.
“Considering this is our first challenge, we are really happy with participation, especially since the students had just returned to school following the lock-down and were still adjusting to the new normal and catching up with the workload but they still made time to participate and work on their projects. So this is encouraging and gives us hope that we can make it an annual event. For the annual event, initially, we launched the challenge due to the Covid-19 pandemic and we were seeking to find out impactful and innovative projects for the current situation and beyond the pandemic, as it was in March that Seychelles as a country started reacting,” CEO Estico said.
“The objective is to, from early on, inculcate in the students, the mindset to react to changing situations and conditions. Do not for a second think that the younger generation are oblivious and are not reacting, because we have received projects that will impact on their immediate communities, school communities and there are also projects with a national impact,” CEO Estico added.
On account of the large number of applications and project ideas for the challenge, a second day of pitching is scheduled today whereby participants at secondary level will pitch 15 projects in total, while nine projects submitted by applicants from post-secondary institutions will also be presented to the judges.
Each project is scored individually by the judges, based on five criteria and with a maximum score of 20 points for each criteria.
Firstly, judges are interested in the project idea, and whether the rationale or objective of the project is clear, the design of the idea and whether participants took into consideration all aspects of the design, and the impact and outcome of the project.
Additionally, projects are judged based on feasibility and applicability as well as innovativeness.
At the end of the two-day pitching competition, scores will be added and winners in each category announced at a later date, although all participants will receive a certificate.
As announced at the official launch of the competition, Nisti is encouraging students to keep working to materialise their projects.
“There will be a follow-up as is the case with our Stem programme. All projects that are viable, we will have to protect their intellectual property and once we have done this, we will encourage them to work on the projects, as this is the pre-incubation phase, the ideation or conceptualising phase. In order to realise the project, it needs to go through the incubation stage and this means the facilities they have access to, to bring the project to life and we will narrow down to the ones that can be materialised,” Mr Estico added.
Satisfied with the innovative solutions put forth by the students, Mr Estico once again affirmed Nisti’s commitment towards empowering the younger generation to embrace Stem and its relevance in society.
He acknowledged that some projects have the potential to be exported or commercialised, from which students can benefit.
Furthermore, potential solutions that are deemed suitable and adaptable, will be shared to government organisation and private sectors to engage in the challenge.