In May 2013, UCT’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) and the V&A Waterfront, announced an exciting new innovation venture, Workshop 17, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Its purpose is to serve as a dedicated “business incubation” space where the brightest minds on the continent can gather in a collaborative, multi-disciplinary fashion and talk, debate, develop, invent, prototype, model, and construct solutions for the future. The GSB intends Workshop 17 to be a world-class African hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Not only that, it also promises to connect its business incubation projects with venture capital funds.
That this creative, dedicated, collaborative, committed approach to problem-solving and business development is taking place right at the V&A is very exciting. The fact that Cape Town, ahead of any other African city, was selected as the preferred location for this MIT-linked programme, is also a significant nod to Cape Town’s growing global reputation for being ‘innovation-friendly’. Modelled on MIT’s “Media Lab”, Workshop 17 is a step forward in our city’s (and country’s) journey towards being an Afro-centric leader in ideas and problem-solving.
Who knows what remarkable technologies, products or ideas could make their mark on the world, after first being conceptualised in the Cape Town city region including the innovation emanating out of Stellenbosch? With a vibrant start-up community ensuring tech innovation, Cape Town is acknowledged as the most innovative city in Africa. Our universities are also producing remarkable research such as UCT’s H3-D Africa’s first Drug Discovery and Development Centre working on a potential cure for malaria; CPUT developing satellites to monitor South Africa’s agriculture and weather conditions, UWC’s hydrogen cells that have separated generation from consumption; and many other examples from USB and research institutions in the Cape Town city region.
It is exciting to see a culture that fosters innovative and collaboration to continue highlighting the value of our region on the African continent.