29 Nov Happy Birthday to Us! Here’s to Two Years of Transformative Growth
As we celebrate our second birthday, the impact Innovation City has had on Africa’s tech ecosystem is nothing short of extraordinary. In just two years, this hub has evolved into a dynamic force, fostering innovation, collaboration, and growth within the vibrant tech community of Cape Town.
A Hub for Collaboration and Innovation
One of Innovation City’s pivotal contributions is its establishment as a physical hub, serving as the beating heart of Cape Town’s tech community, often referred to as ‘the Studio 54 of Business,’ as co-founder stephan ekberghlikes to call it.
The dynamic member-only community, working space and event venue has become a melting pot for startups, scaleups, entrepreneurs and investors, providing a fertile ground for collaboration and the exchange of groundbreaking ideas.
“Innovation City was envisioned as more than just a physical space; it’s a living, breathing ecosystem that catalyses innovation. The energy and synergy within these walls are palpable,” says Michelle Kleu, MD.
Mentorship and Support
Recognising the challenges faced by startups in Africa, Innovation City has been instrumental in providing true and tangible mentorship and support through weekly events, workshops, seminars, specialised niche summits and masterclasses, delivered by a bevy of local and international experts. These have all worked brilliantly towards empowering African entrepreneurs to navigate the intricate landscape of business development on the continent.
Co-founder Kieno Kammiessaid: “Two years at Innovation City has been a blessing and a learning experience. It’s one thing to promise an experience, but the delivery on it is all about listening and execution. The most challenging part for me was clearly landing value. Hiding behind a laptop trying to figure it out was not the answer. Instead, meeting with founders, having a coffee (or something stronger), understanding their short-to-medium-term needs and what makes them tick, is where the magic lies.”
Connecting Dreams with Capital
Innovation CIty’s success stories extend beyond their physical space: By cultivating strong relationships with local and international investors, Innovation City has connected over 1,000 startups with the tools needed to scale and flourish, be it access to VCs, corporates or business partners, or through their ICollective Accelerator programme. Their strategic matchmaking has played a crucial role in propelling promising startups onto the global stage.
“Fostering connections between startups and investors isn’t just about funding; it’s about creating a network that propels innovation forward,” Kleu said.
Events and Summits as Catalysts for Change
Innovation City has positioned itself as a key player in shaping the narrative of Cape Town’s tech scene. Hosting over 50 events, conferences and summits in a single year, they have provided a platform for networking, knowledge exchange, and the exploration of emerging tech trends.
Reflecting on the impact of these events, Ekbergh said: “Our events aren’t just gatherings; they’re moments that define the trajectory of the tech ecosystem. They spark conversation that resonates far beyond our walls.”
This success is demonstrated through the annual Awards Night, where they recognize local champions in innovation and impact. The Business Speed Dating event, which they like to cheekily call Tinder for Business, has consistently proven to be enjoyable and impactful for all. Additionally, the inaugural Digital Divas Summit in 2023 marked a significant achievement, bringing together 150 aspiring women in tech for a full day of learning, networking, and celebrating women in the industry.
Putting Cape Town on the Global Tech Map
Innovation City has actively promoted Cape Town as a global tech hub, attracting talent and investment from around the world. With a commitment to nurturing homegrown talent and fostering international collaborations, Innovation City has played a pivotal role in positioning Cape Town among the top emerging tech hubs globally.
“We’re not only putting Cape Town on the map; we’re also ensuring that it’s marked as a destination for innovation, creativity, and limitless potential,” said Ekbergh.
The numbers speak volumes about Innovation City’s impact:
- Over 1,000 startups connected with investors and funding opportunities.
- Over 50 events and conferences hosted.
- Over $100 million in investment attracted to Cape Town’s tech ecosystem.
Working Towards Global Recognition
The World Economic Forum has acknowledged Cape Town as one of the top 10 emerging tech hubs globally.
Looking ahead, Innovation City remains steadfast in its commitment to nurturing Cape Town’s tech ecosystem. With a solid foundation laid in just two years, the future holds the promise of even greater strides, pushing the boundaries of innovation.
As Kammies aptly summarised, “This is just the beginning. The journey ahead is as thrilling as the journey behind us, and we’re excited to see the innovations that will shape the next chapter of Africa’s tech story.”
Want in? Apply to become a member in Cape Town’s most exciting tech hub here.