Data science in health competition

Participants in our 2021 challenge could win a position as a data scientist at Wimmy!

Wimmy, AxioVR, and the Department of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University partnered up to launch a Data Science in Health competition to recruit aspiring data scientists. This competition gives participants the opportunity to work with real-world data, learn new concepts from a wide range of disciplines, and ultimately contribute to the mental health and wellbeing of people with anxiety disorders. The winner(s) of the competition will be offered a position as a data scientist at Wimmy, starting in January 2022.

Entries are now closed. We are committed to protecting the personal information of everyone who entered. For more on this, read our Competition Policy Principles. 

Here’s what you need to know about the

competition challenge


Acrophobia, or commonly, the fear of heights, causes anxiety and sometimes panic in individuals. This anxiety-inducing situation can become challenging when, for example work circumstances require exposure to changes in heights e.g. in mines. The challenge is to develop a study design to measure the effectiveness of a Virtual Reality (VR) intervention in identifying, treating and evaluating fear of heights.

Participants are learning about how the VR environment and markers of anxiety (i.e. heart rate, sweat response) are correlated, and how they occur within and in-between patients by analysing existing datasets. Rather than merely writing a study protocol, participants are to make explicit their expectations around the study findings, by building a model that can generate a synthetic trial dataset. Next, they demonstrate how their analysis plan would be executed on this synthetic dataset.

There are no limitations to the modelling and analysis techniques that can be used, as long as the aim of the challenge is addressed. However, all code must be written in Python and/or R and/or Matlab.


Entry and selection criteria

The competition invited teams of two with the desire to understand data on a deep level and make an impact in healthcare. Team members have different academic backgrounds and ideally have (recently) graduated with an Honours, Masters or PhD by December 2021. Participants in the competition are limited to 15 pairs. 


Webinar series and mentorship

Participants are expected to attend a series of webinars in the first half of June 2021. These webinars are designed to level the playing field and provide “breadcrumbs” to help you find your way more efficiently around the key domains of the competition: virtual reality, signal processing, anxiety disorders, study design, model simulations and statistical analysis. After the webinar series, there will be designated weekly time allocations for participants to bounce off ideas with mentors. In addition to the webinars and optional weekly mentorship sessions, participants should be prepared to spend approximately 8 hours a week on the competition.



The study protocol, outlining the design of the study, must be submitted as a short report along with any code files and output of statistical analyses. Shortlisted pairs will be invited to present their study design, model and analysis results and engage in a question-and-answer session. Relevance of the solution (i.e. sticking to the brief), scientific soundness, feasibility of the study design, and originality will be considered during scoring by a selected panel of academic and industry experts.



Entries closed on 14 May 2021, after we received more than 120 applications. Participants have been informed whether they were successful. The competition and webinar series officially kick off on 14 June and the competition ends on 30 September 2021. Shortlisted participants will be invited to present their study design and analysis plan by 15 October, and the competition’s winners will be announced on 31 October. The winning team will be given an opportunity to be interviewed at Wimmy, and at least one and potentially both teammates will be offered a position as a data scientist at Wimmy. The position(s) will commence in January 2022.