As far as commercial real estate goes, the V&A Waterfront is not only one of the most well-known, but one of the most profitable locations in Cape Town. With prime location that draws millions every year and a tourist hub, it‘s no wonder this would be the setting for sustainable development in Cape Town. This was evident at the opening of Workshop17 on Tuesday, 25 August.
In a renovated warehouse, called the Watershed, is Workshop17. The Watershed is a hub for local businesses in both technology and trade. What seems to be an upper floor for business offices and a lower floor a tourist market, the space is utilized quite well. Workshop17 currently houses over 130 tenants, ranging from resident member businesses, start-ups and freelancers. These individuals will all share this space to potentially create a collaborative working environment as they work to develop their businesses, products and ideas in the long-term.
At the opening event David Green, CEO of the Waterfront, introduced us to technology initiative leaders who will be at the forefront of this project. The project was designed to support start-ups and experienced companies, profit and non-profit entities, and big and small initiatives, in their efforts to create a better future. One of these leaders being Elizabeth Gould, CEO and co-founder of Codex, discussed the concept of Codex. A coding initiative designed to help bring women into an industry dominated by men and providing scholarships to individuals who have come from previously disadvantaged economic environments. The other initiative leader Derrick Kotze, CEO of mLab, provided us with a look at a company striving to grow the tech sector within South Africa but starting within the urban communities. With mLab, Silicon Cape and Codex being the key residents of Workshop 17, it leads me to believe this could soon be more a technology hub than a diverse market it is being sold as. This is not a bad thing at all, especially with South Africa fast becoming Africa‘s technological epicenter.
The space itself will be a think tank for a variety of businesses, all focused to use the free space to innovate. With a well-equipped internet connection, eight fully-equipped meeting, teaching and function rooms, and “˜creative spaces‘ for idea generation, creative brainstorming – Workshop17 space has been carefully designed to accommodate its vision of collaboration and modern working.
With financial support of the V&A Waterfront, this technology cluster is hoping to promote and build an entrepreneurial and tech ecosystem in Cape Town. How will this be done? The Workshop17 team will curate and manage a number of talks, lectures, workshops, and educational programs that will concentrate on fostering innovation among entrepreneurs.
It is good for the economy when business leaders help grow fledgling businesses and initiatives that strive to improve South Africa, more especially, Cape Town. As the key roles within this project are headed by technology firms, it would be amiss to think that this space is more about the tech sector than was planned. With the future of this development hinging on technological growth, I can see this environment leading the way for future products within the tech industry.