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In order to foster collaboration and innovation among South Africa and the greater continent, the V&A Waterfront’s Workshop17 officially launched last night in Cape Town.
The innovation hub was born out of the desire to support all kinds of initiatives — whether startups or big, experienced companies. Workshop17 will be managed on behalf of the V&A Waterfront by OPEN, a co-working space operator and a partner in the initiative.
The initiative will curate and manage a programme of talks, lectures, workshops, and educational programmes that will concentrate on fostering innovation among entrepreneurs.
“Workshop17 was a seed of an idea six years ago when we recognised that we could use our resources to foster small business through an innovation hub,” said David Green, the CEO of the V&A Waterfront.
“Today, the result is a working space with a clear vision that has a very different kind of potential that extends far beyond the walls of Workshop17,” the CEO added.
Nigerian-born, US-based Julius Akinyemi (pictured above) is a founding member of the advisory board of Workshop17, bringing both passion for and experience in entrepreneurship to Workshop17. Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the former Global Director of Emerging Technologies for PepsiCo, Akinyemi will also be the hub’s first Entrepreneur in Residence.
mLab, Silicon Cape and CodeX have also been announced as key residents of Workshop17, specifically chosen by the V&A Waterfront because their programmes create a highly inclusive, innovative and productive environment.
CEO of mLab Derrick Kotze explained why such a platform is so important:
The Waterfront’s support enables us to provide a free platform for emerging coders and entrepreneurs who are often excluded from the buzzing tech ecosystem purely because they are based in townships and lower income communities. Workshop17 will create a truly inclusive environment for this talent to thrive.
With the financial support of the V&A Waterfront, this technology cluster will work to promote and build an entrepreneurial and tech ecosystem in Cape Town and ensure access to Workshop17 for talented, emerging coders and entrepreneurs. It will function as complementary to other Workshop17 events and community activities.
Elizabeth Gould, the CEO and co-founder of computer programming academy CodeX, noted how important such a stimulating environment is for CodeX students.
“Workshop17 is both inspirational and aspirational for our coders who are just kicking off their careers in tech,” Gould said. “Every day, they have the opportunity to interact with all the other the talented innovators who work there and pass through, and participate in events and programmes of a world class tech hub.”