To be a successful, competitive city region, it is essential to be globally oriented, globally connected – both physically and virtually and to attract young, talented people. South Africa’s ‘innovation hub’ of Stellenbosch is well on the way to addressing these major criteria. Here are some of its key facts:

  • Stellenbosch University, one of Africa’s leading educational institutions, is home to more than 27,000 students across a range of faculties and institutes.
  • The region is home to Africa’s leading agricultural processing- and technology research and innovations.
  • It has several global, South Africa-founded businesses and many entrepreneurial and innovative small- and medium-sized enterprises primed for growth.
  • Stellenbosch is emerging as an innovation ‘hub’ where innovative engineering and technology firms are based. It launched an Innovation District last October and is home to Mxit, the social network platform with over 7.5 million users in African and Indian markets.
  • As of October 2013, Innovus, the university-industry interaction and innovation company, had registered 10 provisional patents and nine patent cooperation treaties for this year alone.
  • It is the only South African town to provide free public wifi to residents and visitors alike.

If anyone doubted the influence and reach of the Stellenbosch business community, consider the following facts about key businesses located in Stellenbosch:

  • Headline earnings for Remgro, the investment holding company based out of Stellenbosch, were over R5 billion in 2012.
  • Dark Fibre Africa, a Remgro company directly involved in rolling out much needed broadband infrastructure, has alone lain over 5200km of fibre-optic cable.
  • Mediclinic operates 49 private hospitals throughout South Africa, with 3 in Namibia – offering more than 7000 beds in total.
  • Distell, the company formed out of Stellenbosch Farmer’s Winery and Distiller’s Corporation in 2000, is now a R14 billion business, employing over 5000 people – and investing nearly R25 million in staff training in two years alone!

This represents a massive investment by the region’s business leaders to develop a robust, growing and sustainable economy, and establish Stellenbosch as a key economic hub.

This is a shortened version of an article written by Chris Whelan, CEO of Accelerate Cape Town. Click here to download the full article and see further coverage as follows:, 15 Nov 2013: Stellenbosch, the Silicon Valley of South Africa
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