A place for digital software advancement

September 5th, 2016, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: EngineerIT



Prof. Barry Dwolatzky, Wits and JCSE

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and its partners in government, business and industry launched the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on 1 September 2016.

Tshimologong will incubate start-ups, commercialise research and develop high-level digital skills for students, working professionals and unemployed youths.

Through Wits’ Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), Tshimologong is a digital innovation precinct that is established in a row of five Wits-owned buildings in Juta Street. Activities in the precinct will include hackathons and challenges with the aim of developing skills, encouraging innovation and promoting the development of new enterprises. All of JCSE’s existing skills development initiatives will also be run in the precinct.

The concept of Tshimologong is the ten-year old brainchild of Prof. Barry Dwolatzky, professor of Software Engineering at Wits School of Electrical and Information Engineering, and director of JCSE. It has now been three years in the making and is a dynamic development that encourages technology innovation and collaboration between the university’s researchers and students, and the private, public and civil society sectors in Johannesburg.

Dwolatzky said that another important aim of the precinct is to reintegrate the university into the community and revitalise the area. He envisions 24/7 activity in the new precinct, with events running day and night. Tshimologong will be a start-up incubator, business accelerator and source of skills. The focus is on digital hardware, software and content – a hub space where people can get together, brainstorm and work on creative projects.

Programmers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs and start-ups will congregate in flexible open-plan co-working areas with broadband connectivity, meeting and refreshment zones, computer laboratories, training rooms, maker spaces, creative content development environments, and administrative and infrastructure support offices.

Another element of the Tshimologong Precinct is the recently launched IBM Research Lab, the first such facility that is tightly integrated into an innovation hub. The lab’s aim is to advance science and develop breakthrough technologies by gathering experts in machine learning, mathematics, computer science, robotics, genomics, computational biology and other domain-specific and interdisciplinary fields.

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