Accelerators IBM Research Johannesburg South Africa

IBM to Build Research Lab/Startup Accelerator In South Africa

Last Friday, February 9, 2015, IBM announced plans to invest $60m to build a new research lab in Johannesburg, South Africa. Though IBM calls the facility a research lab, in practice it will function much more like a startup accelerator or entrepreneurial center. This will be the second such lab on the continent of Africa, and the 12th in the World. The new IBM research lab, set to launch in April of this year, will focus on, “advancing Big Data, cloud and mobile technologies to support South Africa’s national priorities, drive skills development and foster innovation-based economic growth.”1

IBM-SA IBM to Build Research Lab/Startup Accelerator In South Africa

The research center will be located on the campus of the University of Witwatersrand. The lab will have a much larger mission than that of an accelerator, however:

IBM’s South Africa researchers will partner extensively with local universities, research institutions, innovation centers, start-ups and government agencies, thus bolstering South Africa’s emerging innovation ecosystem and helping to develop next generation technology skills. The company has already struck up agreements with Wits University, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to collaborate on research programs and skills development.2

Soloman IBM to Build Research Lab/Startup Accelerator In South Africa

Dr. Solomon Assefa, the head of the new South Africa research lab

 

Dr. Solomon Assefa told ZDNet that the lab would be a sort-of “living laboratory.” He explained:

By that I mean that our lab will be set up in such a way that students and entrepreneurs and startups will come in and work on our infrastructure…including Watson, to investigate solutions to problems facing both business and society. We can create a technology revolution, a revitalized and rejuvenated area.3

  1. IBM Newsroom, “IBM Expands Global Research Network into South Africa,” 06 Feb 2015.  
  2. IBM Newsroom, “IBM Expands Global Research Network into South Africa,” 06 Feb 2015.  
  3. Adam Oxford, ZDNet, “IBM to invest $60m in South African startup and research hub,” 9 February 2015