Cisco to build R215m innovation centre

17 September 2008

Multinational information communication technology (ICT) company Cisco Systems is to invest R215-million in developing the Cisco Innovation Hub Technology Centre in Pretoria.

The 3 000 square metre centre, to be based at the Innovation Hub, will become home to the company’s various ICT initiatives, which are expected to add R1-billion to South Africa’s gross domestic product over an initial five-year period.

The initiative includes an InnovationLab, a global talent acquisition programme, the Cisco Netversity, an entrepreneurship institute and a software development programme.

Cisco Systems South Africa MD Steve Midgley said the investment was worthwhile, seeing that emerging markets provided the biggest opportunity for social and economic transformation.

“South Africa is on the brink of entering a broadband boom,” Midgley said in a statement this week.

“Cisco is investing in this initiative now to ensure that when the broadband revolution really kicks off, South Africa has enough of the right kind of skills, solutions creation capabilities and intellectual property to leverage the many benefits broadband will bring to the country and help leap-frog other economies.”

Advanced technology incubation

As an advanced technology incubation centre, the facility will foster and develop skills, intellectual property, entrepreneurship, and solution development capabilities in South Africa’s ICT sector.

This includes the development of intellectual property, the creation of design and network engineers, local software development, state-of-the-art networking communications laboratories and access to business guidance.

The centre will also provide a showcase for venture capital providers looking to fund solutions or businesses that may result from the centre’s operations.

Cisco added that it expects the centre to have far-reaching implications, and to create a minimum of 200 direct and 800 indirect jobs.

ICT initiatives

Various ICT initiatives that Cisco will conduct from the centre include:


  • Operated by a team of consulting and development entrepreneurs, the InnovationLab has been running since the beginning of 2008 and focuses on developing technology solutions to solve common business challenges in the South African market.



  • With a growing shortage of skilled networking professionals in South Africa and around the world, the global talent acquisition programme seeks to create high level network engineers at a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) level in an accelerated pace.



  • The Netversity meanwhile aims to create a minimum of 150 network design engineers for the local market, at Cisco’s cost, through an experiential architecture and design training programme.



  • Cisco aims to train 250 entrepreneurs through its entrepreneur institute, with the first intake of students graduating before the end of 2008. The institute is a non-profit endeavour that will teach entrepreneurial skills with a curriculum that covers various aspects such as starting, growing and tech-enabling a business.



  • As part of the software development programme, Cisco will invest in software engineers to address the demand for software development skills in South Africa. Located at the centre, the programme will focus on developing applications for Cisco’s own business requirements.


“This will change the way people live and work – giving the public sector and business the opportunity to gain significant efficiencies, to drive productivity enhancements, to achieve cost reductions and to gain access to new market segments within their existing business models,” said Midgley.

“It will also create an enabling platform from which new business models can be created.”

SAinfo reporter