South Africa has experienced a growth in Innovation Spaces that support technology entrepreneurs across the country. Innovation Spaces include: The Innovation Hub , mLab Southern Africa which is hosted within the Innovation Hub since 2011; the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CITI) , BinarySpace ; Codebridge ; Eastern Cape Information Technology Initiative (ECITI) Incubation programme; Invo Tech Incubator , FabLab (now 8 locations); Impact Amplifier ; JoziHub / Jozi Hackerspace ; Softstart BTI ; StartUp 90 ; SmartXchange ; Workshop 17 in Cape Town; LaunchLab ; Impact Hub Johannesburg ; The House 4 Hack . These Innovation Spaces support Incubation (The Innovation Hub; ECITI; InvoTech; Softstart BTI; LaunchLab; SmartXchange), Co-working Spaces (JoziHub; Start-Up Garage; LaunchLab; Impact Hub Johannesburg; Workshop 17) and Acceleration Services (mLab SA; StartUp 90, Impact Amplifier).
Some of these Innovation Spaces are profiled below:
Funded by the Gauteng Provincial Government and established in 2001, The Innovation Hub is located close to the CSIR and Department of Science and Technology (DST). Africa's first internationally accredited Science and Technology Park, and a member of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP), The Innovation Hub hosts mLab Southern Africa, Maxum Business Incubator (co-working and dedicated space), the Climate Innovation Centre (providing access to finance and facilities and technical, business and policy advisory services) and BioPark (promoting health, agriculture and environment industries) which are all focused on enterprise development. Skills development programmes include CoachLab (nine month skills and leadership development programme preparing postgraduate students for industry), and FabLab, the eKasi Labs and Kusile Mobile Science Labs (focused on youth empowerment). OpenIX (like Demola) focuses on Open Innovation bringing together stakeholder challenges with solution providers, while Gap Biosciences, Gap Green, Gap Medical and Gap ICT are competitions for seed funding and incubation services.
mLab Southern Africa is a mobile solutions laboratory and startup accelerator focused on the development of innovative mobile applications and services. The mLab Southern Africa has physical presence in The Innovation Hub in Pretoria (Gauteng), Cape Town (Western Cape), Kimberley (Northern Cape) and Polokwane (Limpopo). It is a member of AfriLabs. it also has virtual programs in Southern Africa. It supports the development of mobile solutions in the consumer, design, enterprise, public and gaming sectors. The mLab Soutthern Africa also runs coding skills academies, hackathons and is the coordinator of the DEMOLA Network activities in South Africa.
The Technology Innovation Agency is the focal point in the Southern African Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2), which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland from 2017 - 2021. The SAIS2 Innovation Fund provides grants for locally implemented projects with partners from the beneficiary countries (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia). TIA and mLabs is a member of the SAIS2 Connected Hubs.
CITI is an inititaitive that includes a multi-faceted co-working space and ideal location for supporting and incubating tech and tech-based businesses in Cape Town. It provides co-working space and professional services as well as an online and workshop based pre-incubation programmes and on-site incubation and accelerator programmes for entrepreneurs at different stages of development. It is part of the Silicon Cape Initiative.
BinarySpace is a Hackerspace in the Vaal Triangle. It provides a space where people with common interests in technology, science and electronic art, can meet, socialize and/or collaborate. BinarySpace also provides introductory short courses in electronics for technology enthusiasts.
CodeBridge is a startup incubator, which bring together activists, technologists, journalists, data analysts, designers, programmers and others, to create opportunities for innovations and alternative ways to address some of society's challenges. Their incubation services include training and tailored bootcamps, mentorship, business strategy, funding assistance and working space.
Established in East London by the Eastern Cape Provincial Government in 2004, ECITI provides incubation services (Launch pad, Seed, eGrowth) to ICT and film oriented entrepreneurs. Its incubation programme is focused on providing infrastructure and business support services, early stage development of ICT and film entrepreneurs with a particular focus on women, youth and disabled.
InvoTech offers a ten-week entrepreneurship programme based at Durban University of Technology, focused on the Green Technology, Digital Creative Industry, Software or Mobile Application Sectors. Launched in August 2011, the incubator is co-funded by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda). InvoTech provides access to a Seed Fund in partnership with the Technology Innovation Agency, focused on Energy, Transportation, Advanced Materials, Environment & Waste related innovation.
The FabLabs, supported by the Department of Science and Technology, are a small-scale version of a production factory. While the FabLab cannot be used to manufacture thousands of assembly-line products, it can be used by individuals to create prototypes from arts and crafts to engineering and architecture models. Computer based design or drawing software, in most cases Open Source software, is used to create designs that are then automatically manufactured by an appropriate cutting, milling or forming machine. The cross-cutting nature of the fabrication technologies lends itself to basic science, engineering and technology (SET) education, needed to stimulate the "can make" attitude amongst the youth, especially those still affected by the digital divide. Access to the FabLab gives any community a head start in basic engineering and design technologies, and an opportunity to experiment and learn from others while being creative and innovative. The fabLabs has a footprint in eight locations in South Africa.
Impact Amplifier supports high growth impact businesses to access funding from both local and international investors. It hosts a range of accelerator and training programmes to get high growth potential impact businesses ready for investment. Impact Amplifier has a core set of services to assist impact investors to build quality business portfolios, which can thrive commercially whilst making a meaningful contribution to social and environmental challenges.
Launched in February 2013, JoziHub is a Johannesburg based technology incubator supported by the Praekelt Foundation, Venture Solutions, IS Labs, AfriLabs, Silicon Cape Innitiative, Google Entrepreneur programme, Indigo Trust and the Omidyar Network, offering co-working space, mentoring, community events and conference facilitates. It focuses on supporting early stage innovation to assist in business growth and job creation in the technology and social impact spheres. There are currently 35 resident start-ups at the hub.
Based in Midrand, Gauteng and launched in 2005, Softstart Business and Technology Incubator (Softstart BTI) is focused on ICT and electronics related startups, providing services including: co-working space; mentoring and training; human resource and payroll; communications and marketing; strategy, policy and research and development; legal support and fund raising. Softstart BTI has full support and sponsorship from the SEDA Technology Programme (STP) a programme under the Small Enterprise Development Agency of the Department of Small Business Development. STP sponsors the Business Incubation initiative from its inception to fast track the links between the government, private sector and academia of South Africa.
Startup 90 in Capetown offers a three-month accelerator programme (primarily focused on the education, finance, healthcare and agriculture sectors) with mentoring and co-working space. It primarily focuses on start-up and early stage businesses.
The Durban Technology Hub t/a SmartXchange is an incubator whose core mandate is to provide enterprise development services to small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME'S) in the Media, Information Communication Technology and electronics sector. SmartXchange manages a programme that identifies and assists in developing quality skilled MICTe SMME's in KwaZulu Natal and also to build a pool of skilled MICTe workers that will enable KwaZulu Natal businesses to flourish. SmartXchange partners with corporates from the MICTe industry, tertiary institutions and the government sector to work towards up skilling entrepreneurs and the youth.
Workshop 17 is a hub that aims to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship for a positive social and economic change. It is now the work place of more than 240 entrepreneurs, innovators and professionals and 80 companies. Corporates, government and civil society use the space daily for meetings, teachings and events. The public drops in for informal work and meetings in the café. Workshop 17 is supported by OPEN and V&A Waterfront.
Launched in October 2012, Capetown Garage offers co-working and meeting space. The Cape Town Garage is one of 3 co-working tech hubs in Africa - There are also 2 Garages in Nairobi , Kenya. The Garages are meant to create the environment for young businesses to build networks, share ideas and collaborate on new projects.
Founded in 2011, 88mph Accelerator has now closed. It invested in 36 companies in Kenya and South Africa between 2011 - 2014 and during 2015 - 2016 reoriented itself to focus on the commercial success of investee companies. By then it had a footprint in Cape Town, Nairobi (Kenya) and Lagos (Nigeria).
Hosted by the University of Stellenbosch and launched in August 2013,LaunchLab is a business incubator that uses an Ideas Programme with workshops and Pitching Den before selecting the top ideas for seed funding, mentoring and coaching and incubation space. This innovative programme is open to university students (not limited to Stellenbosch) and external entrepreneurs. It is primarily focused on assisting technology and innovation businesses in ICT (specifically Payments & Big Data and Paid Media), Cleantech, Agriculture and Education. It is also supported by the Nedbank.
Part of ImpactHub Network, Impact Hub Johannesburg offers co-working space in Braamfontein, and offers a fee based three-month Social Impact Accelerator Programme. Its community is comprised of entrepreneurs, freelancers, techies, consultants, investors, creatives, artists and more. The ImpactHub Network footprint stretches from Amsterdam to Accra, Singapore to San Francisco, Impact Hub is a rapidly expanding, diverse global network of over 13,000+ members in 85+ locations.
The House 4 Hack is an initiative to bring together technology specialists and entrepreneurs in an informal setting. The setting is a 400 m² house in Lyttleton Manor in Centurion (Pretoria) and is equiped with various prototyping tools. Furthermore, the plan is to provide access to business mentorship, startup finance and training on a variety of topics. The idea is to combine concepts from hackerspaces and innovation incubators in a way that hobbyists, people in corporations or want to take a break from their regular jobs can experiment with start-ups in a safe friendly environment.
A UK-based not-for-profit, Nesta partnered with the African Leadership Academy to establish the Global Innovation Policy Accelerator in Johannesburg, South Africa.
ygap is an Australian based not-for-profit focused on supporting impact entrepreneurs to implement local solutions to local problems. ygap South Africa supports startups by providing a one week live-in accelerator focused on strengthening business models and provide necessary tools to achieve viability. Supported start-ups can access grant of investment funding of AUD$10 - $50k. ygap also have a dedicated program for female led early stage startups - yher Africa .
14.6 Venture capital/ Angel investor