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By 22 February 2013 | Categories: news

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Johannesburg’s first technology incubator dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation dubbed JoziHub, has opened its doors to the next generation of African tech entrepreneurs and leaders.  

Founded by the mobile technologies and solutions provider Praekelt Foundation and backed by Omidyar Network, Google and Internet Solution’s ISlabs, JoziHub is tasked with becoming the epicenter for technological development and entrepreneurship in Johannesburg.

JoziHub will be the facilitator for interactions and collaborations among various stakeholders such as research, private sector and public institutions, providing a dynamic and far-reaching ecosystem for entrepreneurs to drive their initiatives. Emphasis will be placed on the development of internet, social media and mobile technologies that address the country’s most pressing social challenges.

“Technology hubs can play a pivotal role in fostering the emergence of a new generation of African tech entrepreneurs,” said Gustav Praekelt, founder of the Praekelt Foundation. “By providing the training, support, facilities and networks required to enable entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into sustainable businesses, incubators such as JoziHub can make an immediate and lasting impact on local innovation and development.”

Content streams and events

There will be various content streams that will focus on particular market segments namely entrepreneurship, developers, health, arts, education, environment and sustainability, as well as women in tech. In addition, JoziHub will regularly host events that bring together the continent’s leading thinkers and agents of change within each of these sectors.

“For Johannesburg tech entrepreneurs, today the world just became smaller and the path to innovation shorter,” stated Omidyar Network Partner Stephen King. “Our experience in Silicon Valley, as well as our support of technology hubs in Nairobi and Lagos, demonstrates the vital role JoziHub will play as an open, living lab where collaboration among social entrepreneurs and technologists will spark new ideas, nurture innovation and create socially minded ventures.”

JoziHub partner roles

Tech giant Google, one of JoziHub’s core funding partners, is committed to helping the tech startup ecosystem grow across Africa, as part of their efforts to create an accessible, relevant and sustainable internet ecosystem across the continent. Google’s goal is to enable tech hubs such as JoziHub by providing them with funding, technical content, business tools, and infrastructure upgrades so that these hubs can support developers and startups.

Internet service provider, Internet Solutions, has launched ISLabs to identify promising online projects and assist them in their development. ISlabs is a virtual incubator and a business linkage facilitator, providing free technology and business support to early stage startups.
JoziHub fits into ISlabs’ vision to grow the South African internet by promoting, supporting and incubating a culture of pioneering innovation in the local online community.

African collaboration

JoziHub will work closely with other hubs across the African content including Kenya’s iHub and will soon apply to join AfriLabs, a networking organisation that supports the growth of communities around African technology hubs.

During JoziHub’s three month launch period, it will be free for entrepreneurs to join and utilise the JoziHub. As demand grows, certain services such as the shared space, and access to mentors and events will be charged for accordingly.

“Johannesburg has a vibrant community of innovators and world class thinkers whose ideas can transform the country, and indeed the African continent,” added Praekelt. “At JoziHub, we are seeking to harness this energy and allow its vast potential to be realised.”

In related news, Google recently announced that it will hold the first Google Engage Academy in Johannesburg on 7 March 2013, a free full-day training seminar highlighting the use of online marketing tools for digital agencies. This seminar is open to all members of Google Engage for Agencies - a support programme for advertising agencies, webmasters, search engine marketers and anyone else who provides web services to small and medium enterprises.

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