The Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct is Johannesburg’s newest high-tech address in the vibrant inner-city district of Braamfontein.

Drawing on models that have proved hugely successful in major cities around the world, the University of the Witwatersrand is driving the development of a technology ecosystem in the heart of Braamfontein, Johannesburg – the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct.

Envisioned as a bridge between Wits researchers and anyone else who wants to participate in innovation, Tshimologong is a dynamic development along Juta Street that encourages tech innovation and collaboration between the university, students and the private, public and civil society sectors in Johannesburg.

The precinct layout
Aptly named Tshimologong, which is Setswana for “new beginnings”, programmers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs and start-ups will congregate in this half-a-city-block with its flexible open-plan, co-working areas with broadband connectivity.

There are also meeting and refreshment zones, computer laboratories, training rooms, maker spaces, creative content development environments, and administrative and infrastructure support offices.

An important element is the IBM Research Lab, the first corporate research facility of its kind anywhere in the world that is tightly integrated into an innovation hub.

Another addition is the establishment by Wits of The DIZ (Digital Innovation Zone), a space in Smit Street where creatives, innovators and programmers can come together and collaborate.

A digital innovation hub
“We hope that transforming Braamfontein into Africa’s premier technology hub will inspire new talent, create jobs and lead to an economic renaissance,” says Barry Dwolatzky, professor in software engineering at the Wits School of Electrical and Information Engineering and director of Wits’ Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE).

Dwolatzky, who has been driving the Tshimologong initiative, envisions 24/7 activity in the new precinct, with events running day and night, as well as a hub where ideas are hatched and creativity has a space to breathe.

“The focus is on digital hardware, software and content. We are creating a hub space where people can get together, brainstorm and work on creative projects,” he says.

An enabling role
“Wits aims to inspire the development of a new generation of digital technology experts, innovators and entrepreneurs, and Tshimologong will provide an enabling space for our country’s most creative young minds to develop new digital technologies that are crucial to South Africa’s economic growth and international competitiveness,” adds professor Adam Habib, vice-chancellor and principal at Wits University.

Not only accessible or open to university researchers and students, the Precinct is membership-based and will provide a space for skills development in the software and digital technology sector, help address unemployment and encourage the growth of new businesses.

Full thanks and acknowledgment are given to the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Hub for the information given to write this article.

– Co-working areas with broadband connectivity.
– Meeting and refreshment zones.
– Computer laboratories.
– Training rooms.
– Maker spaces.
– Creative content development environments.
– IBM Research Lab.
– The DIZ (Digital Innovation Zone).
– Administrative and infrastructure support offices.

Caption: The new IBM Research Lab is the first facility of its kind anywhere in the world that is tightly integrated into an innovation hub.
Courtesy of JCSE/Wits University