JoziHub, Johannesburg's first technology incubator dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, officially opened its doors recently at Milpark. It is poised to transform the city’s technology industry by connecting potential entrepreneurs and developers with the critical resources they need.
Founded by the Praekelt Foundation and backed by Omidyar Network, Google and ISlabs, JoziHub will be more than just a physical working space – it will become the epicenter for technological development and entrepreneurship in Johannesburg.
“Technology hubs can play a pivotal role in fostering the emergence of a new generation of African tech entrepreneurs,” says Gustav Praekelt, founder of the Praekelt Foundation. “By providing the training, support, facilities and networks required to enable entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into sustainable businesses, incubators such as JoziHub can make an immediate and lasting impact on local innovation and development.”
JoziHub will be the facilitator for interactions and collaborations among various stakeholders such as research, private sector and public institutions, providing a dynamic and far-reaching eco-system for entrepreneurs to drive their initiatives. Emphasis will be placed on the development of Internet, social media and mobile technologies that address the country’s most pressing social challenges.
There will be various content streams that will focus on particular market segments; Entrepreneurship; Developers; Health; Arts; Education; Environment & Sustainability; Women in Tech; and Government and Transparency. In addition, JoziHub will regularly host events that bring together the continent’s leading thinkers and agents of change within each of these sectors. The first event will be the TED2013 Live Stream on February 27th, 2012.
“For Johannesburg tech entrepreneurs, today the world just became smaller and the path to innovation shorter,” said Omidyar Network Partner Stephen King. “Our experience in Silicon Valley, as well as our support of technology hubs in Nairobi and Lagos, demonstrates the vital role JoziHub will play as an open, living lab where collaboration among social entrepreneurs and technologists will spark new ideas, nurture innovation and create socially minded ventures.”
Google, one of JoziHub’s core funding partners, is committed to helping the tech start-up ecosystem grow across Africa, as part of their efforts to create an accessible, relevant and sustainable internet ecosystem across the continent. Google’s goal is to enable tech hubs like JoziHub by providing them with funding, technical content, business tools, and infrastructure upgrades so that the hubs can support developers and start-ups.
Internet Solutions, Southern Africa’s most established and experienced Internet Service Provider, has been at the forefront of the local industry’s development since the dawn of the internet in South Africa. With an ethos of boundless possibility in mind, IS launched ISLabs to identify promising online projects and assist them in their development. ISlabs is a virtual incubator and a business linkage facilitator, providing free technology and business support to early stage startups. JoziHub fits into ISlabs’ vision to grow the South African internet by promoting, supporting and incubating a culture of pioneering innovation in the local online community.
Local innovation management consultants, Venture Solutions, have also been closely involved in the planning and creation of JoziHub, and will continue to play a pivotal role in driving co-creation initiatives.
JoziHub will work closely with other hubs across the African content, such as Kenya’s iHub - and will soon apply to join AfriLabs, a networking organisation that supports the growth of communities around African technology hubs.
During JoziHub’s 3 month launch period, it will be free for entrepreneurs to join and utilise the JoziHub. As demand grows, certain services such as the shared space, hotdesks, access to mentors and events will be charged for accordingly.
“Johannesburg has a vibrant community of innovators and world class thinkers whose ideas can transform the country, and indeed the African continent,” adds Praekelt. “At JoziHub, we are seeking to harness this energy and allow its vast potential to be realised.”