Prize money of R250 000.00 is up for grabs in a local software competition launched today by the SITA (State IT Agency) Innovation Centre.

The software challenge, “Lethla la Dlakanyo” or “Season of Ideas” aims to create awareness of SITA and its role, while showcasing IT talent in the local market.

Participants must use open source software in their projects, which will be innovative, creative, functional and original applications that are relevant to the public service.

The finished applications will be packaged and disseminated by SITA and need to improve service delivery to South African citizens – so they must be developed under an open source license.

The first prize is a cash award of R150 000.00, with the second prizes winner taking R75 000.00 and the third place receiving R25 000.00.

The competition is open to everyone. It was launched today at GovTech but will be rolled out nationally over the coming weeks. Students at universities and technikons will also be encouraged to participate and could be offered internships at SITA as well.

Judging will be based upon a number of criteria, including innovation; social upliftment; public service improvement; building a civil society; protection of women, children and people with diabilities; and safety and security.

Entrants may submit their applications from 1 October, and submissions close on 31 January 2012. The first round of judging will end on 30 April 2012 and the final winners will be announced on 16 June 2012.