The launch of SiliconCape was held on October 8, 2009.
It was a resounding success that exceeded all expectations. Here is what some of the speakers had to say:
Dr Ramphela Mampela - Chair of Technology Innovation Agency: "This day will be forever marked in the calendar of South Africa's innovation as the beginning. I am really excited by what I have heard here today."
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille: "I do like to avoid cliches but I do have to say that when we look back in ten years time we will have to say that this is an historical event.
"Justin and Vinny rightly said we are at the start of a 15-year dream because that is what it takes. I have really been inspired here today and will take a lot of these lessons and follow the work that you are doing and stay in close contact with the great minds that I hope will stay in South Africa and in the Western Cape."
Dr Johan Rupert: "We cannot survive as a society if we rely on the export of raw materials. The countries that are net exporters of intellectual property (IP) are the companies that are going to survive.
"Fifty years ago you built a steel mill and couldn't move it, which meant you were tied to the country and the government of that country. Today the people in this room, the creators of IP, can move it anywhere. People with IP between their ears are mobile and sought after. Young entrepreneurs hold IP and the power of the individual versus the power of the state will therefore increase.
"Governments had better treat these people very well. The Chinese have a great saying: Never scare the donkey that carries the china.
"Societies that do not embrace, protect and encourage the creation of IP will become poorer. I am very glad to see Premier Zille here. I have discussed the concept, with the ANC and government, of having a tax free zone in the Western Cape.
"In order to do good you firstly have to do well. Government can’t create jobs. Wealth and entrepreneurs create jobs. If we have an entrepreneurial centre in the Western Cape where IP is protected and valued, it will flourish. But we need proper incentivisation."
SiliconCape was the brainchild of Justin Stanford and Vinny Langham. Let them tell there stories:
When my good friend Vinny Lingham and I spent a few weeks together in Silicon Valley in early 2009, we quickly realised that we shared a passion for the idea that the Cape in South Africa had the potential to become the Silicon Valley of Africa. This led to many a late night discussion filled with enthusiasm and ideas, and ultimately the birth of this movement.
Both being investors and entrepreneurs in the area, we were both aware of an increasing number of tech startups emerging, and of an increasing number of people who were already working in the Silicon Cape and were passionate about it. Of course, we aren't quite there yet... there are still a number of challenges that face us and need to be addressed to make the dream come true.
Thus we realised that now more than ever was the ideal time to create a brand, an idea, a masthead that the community could own and that everyone could rally around to focus their energy on in a cohesive effort that would ultimately benefit our home country, by attracting the best entrepreneurs, technical brains, and foreign direct investment.
We loved the term Silicon Cape which Vinny and others had already started to popularise, so it seemed a natural fit for a global brand for the concept. I quickly realised that this could be the ideal channel for 4Di Capital's community- and ecosystem-building philanthropic ambitions and budget, so we agreed to be the lead sponsor in kicking things off.
The Silicon Cape vision is of an ecosystem in the Western Cape of South Africa, that serves to attract and bring together local and foreign investors, the brightest technical talent, and the most promising entrepreneurs, to foster the creation and growth of world-class IP start-up companies in an environment that competes with other similar hubs around the world against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful settings and pleasant places to live, work and play on the globe.
The concept of the Silicon Cape is not owned or controlled by any single entity. It is a living community and an organic, ever-developing concept in the hearts and minds of every participant, which endeavours to catalyse the local IP entrepreneurial community. As a community member, come and be a part of the genesis of turning the Silicon Cape into reality.
The initiative aims to start a conversation -- to plant a seed and foster the concept of the Silicon Cape in people’s minds and on their lips around the world as the emerging Silicon Valley of Africa, and to create an environment and a perception of the area as a world-class location and destination that is not only capable of delivering but already is. This will in turn create real benefits for the Cape and it’s residents and stakeholders, and assist in attracting further foreign direct investment into South Africa.
The aim by the end of the first event is to catalyse widespread conversation around the concept online and offline, build a global brand, and to establish a working group of volunteers and donors to take the vision forward and see it through to reality, garnering support from all sectors and stakeholders and ultimately establishing a foundation. The event is due to be attended and addressed by the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille.
Why the Cape? Does Silicon Cape exclude the rest of South Africa?
Not at all. The whole of South Africa is most definitely included and everyone is invited. South Africa as a whole is without doubt the technological powerhouse of Africa. However, much like with Silicon Valley, we feel that an initiative and a brand like this needs a focal point, and that the Cape contains the unique mix of all of the varied ingredients that ultimately serve to bring together the right participants. This would already seem to be evidenced by the number of tech startups which are Cape based.
Who owns the name and the brand Silicon Cape?
You and everybody else who believes in South Africa. It is a community owned effort. A non-profit foundation will be established in due course to protect and promote the brand here and around the world, however.
I was reading an article in Fin24, and it highlighted to me how important it is to understand what Silicon Cape is, and equally what it is not. Credit belongs to the tireless efforts of countless entrepreneurs & investors with success stories & failures alike, over the many years in the Western Cape. These are the true heroes of the Silicon Cape. The Silicon Cape Initiative is a project which is owned by the community, for the community. No one single person or group of individuals should ever claim credit for it's establishment. It's a movement, a mindset, a vision and a belief.
Luckily, it's also a clean slate for everyone - forget the failures of the past to formalize this region - let's unify our efforts to focus this region into a successful technology hub - we need to enable entrepreneurs to succeed and investors to make above market returns - it's that simple, yet also that difficult too.
Silicon Cape is not about ego's or politics. Instead, it's really about those who care to see a brighter day in South Africa, and that brighter day starts with a land filled with starry eyed, bright young kids (& adults!) who dream of a better future for themselves and are willing to work hard to achieve success in their endeavors. It's about giving these people the best chance to succeed with access to the right people, structures and most importantly, capital - something that is still sorely missing from this region.
The Silicon Cape is a dream that belongs to everyone and anyone. No one person or group started it, no single person or group is going to build it. It belongs to all of us and it needs all of us. Silicon Cape will succeed not despite our egalitarian structure, but, rather, because of it.
For more: http://www.siliconcape.com