The Innovation Hub: plugging into change

The push for innovation is crucial for businesses wanting to keep up with the latest technological developments in the constantly changing and competitive global market place.

Recognising this, the Gauteng provincial government set up a specialised unit for technological development in 2001. Known as the Innovation Hub, the centre was developed to create a unique space to bring hi-tech entrepreneurs, industry, academics, researchers and venture capitalists together.

The Innovation Hub’s mission is to promote the socio-economic development and competitiveness of Gauteng through innovation.

What is the Innovation Hub?

It is Africa’s first accredited science and technology park and a full member of the International Association of Science Parks. It is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), which is an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development.

Taking its benchmark from the best such developments in the world, the creativity- driven centre houses technology-related businesses across a range of disciplines, including electronics, information and communication technology, bio-science, and advanced manufacturing sectors.

The complex is strategically located in Tshwane, executive capital in the “smart” province of Gauteng. It lies between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the University of Pretoria, two of the country’s leading research institutions.

Partnership

The Innovation Hub and the CSIR have entered into a partnership to support entrepreneurs and ensure they contribute to the growth of the economy.

The two-year-long memorandum of understanding will provide start-ups with many opportunities: “We are providing a home for entrepreneurs, as well as value added services such as mentorship, intellectual property management support, networking, subsidised office space and free connectivity to the entrepreneurs in incubation,” McLean Sibanda, chief executive of the Innovation Hub, said at the time of the launch.

MaxHub

Maxum Business Incubator is the Innovation Hub’s flagship entrepreneurship programme aimed at accelerating the growth of knowledge-intensive enterprises.

The programme comprises a pre-incubation phase, which lasts between six to 12 months and allows budding entrepreneurs the opportunity to refine their ideas into viable business cases; as well as a two- to three-year incubation phase.

Further support to Maxum start-ups is also available from the CSIR’s Enterprise Creation for Development (ECD), which provide incubation support with business plan development, feasibility studies and business advisory services.

Skills and leadership development

Training is a core focus at the Innovation Hub. The CoachLab™ postgraduate leadership programme in the fields of ICT and engineering aims to ease graduates’ transition from tertiary education into industry.

Students work on projects supervised by industry experts. By 2013, almost 188 leaders had been through the programme.

CoachLab™ is sponsored by Media Information and Communication Technology (MICT) Seta and industry partners who use the programme as an opportunity to train graduates to employ in their core businesses.

Green and sustainable development projects

This programme is responsible for identifying, stimulating and supporting green innovations that have strong socio-economic effects, with the ultimate aim of being absorbed into a green economy. It identifies, stimulates, supports R&D commercialisation and innovations in priority sectors of the green economy, to be incorporated into the Gauteng economy.

MLab

mLab Southern Africa (SA) is a mobile solutions laboratory and startup accelerator based at the Innovation Hub. It provides entrepreneurs and mobile developers with the support they need to develop innovative mobile applications and services.

MLab’s goal is to help build sustainable technology businesses by helping their founders mobilize their services and products to take advantage of the rapid growing base of mobile consumers in Africa and around the world.

SAinfo reporter

Reviewed: 24 April 2013

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