The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, one of the most trafficked tourist attractions in the world, is now also host to a technology hub that its backers hope will help incubate and grow the next crop of hi-tech businesses.
The hub, called Workshop17, is made up of 2 500sq m of collaborative workspace targeting technology and other creative start-ups and businesses. The idea is that like-minded people running similar businesses can feed off each other’s creativity and expertise, its backers say.
A portion of the space is open to the public, free of charge, while hot desks, dedicated desks, studios and eight boardrooms are available to paying members.
The space is managed on behalf of the V&A Waterfront by OPEN, a partner in the initiative that has created similar work environment in the Maboneng Precinct in downtown Johannesburg and at the Tshimologong Precinct in Braamfontein.
Mark Seftel, co-founder of OPEN, says the idea is to foster collaboration. Almost half of Workshop17’s floor space is open to the general public. The facility includes a bar area, where members can have coffee, get a meal or have a drink. “It’s important for members to get to know each other,” he says.
A “light” membership costs R1 500/month excluding VAT. A full membership is twice that, but provides additional benefits.
Seftel says Workshop17 doesn’t only want to attract start-ups, but corporate clients and other interested parties. “We want the whole continuum. All these people have a role to play. It’s very difficult to do innovation in a silo.”
Workshop17 is co-founded by Julius Akinyemi, an entrepreneur in residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. The tech hub has also partnered with international organisations codeX and mLab, both of which focus on technological skills development. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media