NWU competition inspires youth to find innovative solutions

The North-West University’s annual Modiragatsi innovation competition that gives high-school learners between the ages of 15 and 18 the opportunity to become the next generation of problem solvers is back and it is even bigger and better this year.

The competition’s main focus is still on empowering high-school girls, but from this year it also allows for boys to enter as long as they are part of a team of two of whom one of the participants identify as female.

The winning participant, albeit solo or as part of a team of two, stands the chance to win magnificent prizes. These include an all-expenses-paid overseas technology tour for them and their teacher, as well as a study bursary from Siemens.

As from this year, the competition is hosted by the NWU Business School, in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering. It is sponsored by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA) and Siemens.

Participants can enter in one of six categories:

  1. Food security, energy and water
  2. Township economy
  3. Gender-based violence prevention
  4. Safety and security
  5. Healthcare (including mental health)
  6. Education


Once they have identified the problem and the solution, they need to make a short video to explain it and submit it along with the online entry form. Participants do not need a working prototype.

The semi-finalists will be hosted online for a mentorship programme, once a week for a period of 12 weeks from April 2022. This will help them to develop their idea into a product and then into a business concept.

“This is an excellent opportunity to not only to solve a problem in your own community, but also gain new skills in product development and problem-solving through design thinking, mobile app development and business modelling,” says Prof Leenta Grobler, associate professor in digitisation and digital economies.

Prof Leenta says apart from the new technical content of the programme, the Centre for Health and Human Performance in the Faculty of Health Sciences will also look after the personal development of the participants during the journey to embody the 2022 theme: “Be the Change”.

She says teams will have to submit a final report and video at the end of the mentorship programme in July. This will be used to select the winning team.

Paballo Diyase ― last year’s winner-who is currently in Grade 12 in the High School for Girls in Potchefstroom ― says that the competition is a great opportunity. “I was honoured to be selected as a semi-finalist. It provided a platform to acquire new skills in mobile app development, and computational and design thinking, among other things. I was challenged throughout the competition to push my innovation and creativity to the next level. I also enjoyed interacting with other young ladies who are just as driven as I am to address the problems faced by our South African society.”

“Overall, the experience was empowering and insightful. I have gained much respect for the engineers who work behind the scenes, developing the technology we use every day.”

If you want to enter the competition, hurry up! Time is running out, with applications closing on 25 March 2022. The winners will be announced at the annual Femmegineering event on 9 August during a prestigious occasion hosted at Siemens in Johannesburg.


For more information visit: https://commerce.nwu.ac.za/business-school/modiragatsi


Prof Leenta Grobler


Paballo Diyase

Submitted on Wed, 03/02/2022 - 10:17