Google has launched Umbono, its new technology incubator, based in Cape Town. This initiative brings together seed capital, Google mentorship, angel investors, local tech stars, entrepreneurs and business leaders, in an effort to assist selected start-up teams to transform their ideas into companies.
As part of its goal to strengthen the web ecosystem across Africa, Google hopes that Umbono will further encourage the growth of the developer community and support the country’s already flourishing tech sector.
For six months, teams will enjoy free office space and bandwidth, in addition to the $25 000 to $50 000 in funding that they’ll receive from Umbono’s panel of angel investors as well as Google itself.
“The South African tech scene is incredibly dynamic, particularly in Cape Town,” said Luke McKend, Google South Africa country manager. “We’ve seen some terrific start-ups come from this environment, companies like Yola, MXit and Twangoo. Google’s latest investment with Umbono is a great extension of our overall strategy in the region to strengthen the web ecosystem.”
Throughout this programme, teams will not only benefit from local connections, but also from the extensive mentorship network of Google experts who can provide guidance on issues ranging from product design and commercialisation, to legal incorporation and valuation.
“Our mentor base is a key component of the Umbono programme,” explained Johanna Kollar, Umbono programme manager. “Our experts - Googlers from around the world who are volunteering their time - are passionate about technology in Africa and will be able to help teams with the challenges they face, whether it be on the product, business or technical front.”
Community integration is essential to successful incubator programmes and Google is collaborating with the Silicon Cape Initiative and the Bandwidth Barn, Cape Town’s premier IT networking organisation and original business incubator, respectively. These local leaders will ensure that Umbono’s teams are well positioned to succeed.
“Google’s Umbono programme is a welcome addition to Cape Town’s tech scene - there’s a lot of talent and enthusiasm for technology here, and many just need that window of opportunity,” stated Justin Spratt, board member for Silicon Cape.
Applications will be live on the Umbono website
as of today and the programme is open to all South African residents. The deadline for first round applicants is 15 April 2011, but the website will continue to accept applications from interested candidates.