Promoting digital innovation through collaboration

April 12th, 2018, Published in Articles: Energize, Articles: EngineerIT, Articles: Vector

Apart from well-established innovations in robotics, drives, control systems and energy solutions at the recent ABB Customer World Africa 2018, a new drive for local innovation bloomed as ABB signed an agreement with the University of the Witwatersrand technology centre, known as the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct. The memorandum of understanding (MoU), which was signed at a stakeholder event on 11 April 2018, stipulates donations and support mechanisms which ABB will offer to Tshimologong.

Signing of the MoU (from left): Prof. Barry Dwolatzky and Prof. Tawana Kupe, Wits; with Leon Viljoen, Dr Chun Yuan Gu, Claudio Facchin, and Sami Atiya, ABB.

ABB Southern Africa MD Leon Viljoen said a prime aspect of Industry 4.0 is that it opens the way for entrepreneurs to become part of a supply chain to large players. He said that ABB wants to see young entrepreneurs being assisted in the development of their digital innovation ideas – an activity which Tshimologong offers through their incubation programme. Wits acting vice-chancellor Prof. Tawana Kupe said the partnership with ABB is not just a “donation” but an affirmation of the vision of the innovation precinct.

The Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct is the brainchild of Prof. Barry Dwolatzky, who heads up the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at the University. He founded the precinct to create a “go-to place” for people with innovative ideas.

“People in California know where to go if they need support and funding for a new technological idea – Silicon Valley. Developed countries have options. Now we do too – people in Johannesburg have a safe ecosystem in which to develop their ideas”.

While the precinct is part of Wits, it is not on the university campus as it is open to all – not just to Wits students. The Tshimologong building is another project in itself. Situated in Braamfontein, it was previously a dilapidated building in a run-down area. Now, the area has been uplifted, making it safer, more popular and creating employment for people in the area.

The event closed with the official signing of the MoU by stakeholders from Wits, Tshimologong, and ABB.