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 global 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.
The initiative aims firstly 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 technology startup hub and gateway to Africa, and to assist in the creation of 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 country, the Cape and its residents and stakeholders, and assist in attracting further foreign direct investment into South Africa.
The Silicon Cape Initiative has identified the following objectives to be pursued.
Awareness, Promotion and Branding
- Raise awareness of the potential and of the opportunity that exists, for investors, entrepreneurs and engineers
- Brand and promote the region locally and internationally as the emerging “Silicon Valley of Africa”, a global tech innovation hub
- Attract and retain local, ex-pat and foreign entrepreneurs, investors, and skilled technical people by raising awareness
- Showcase and raise awareness of the array of high-tech startup related activity already taking place that is currently underexposed and operating in isolation
- Bridge from the private to the public sector – raise awareness in government of the potential that exists, activity taking place, and issues facing investors and entrepreneurs
- Unite the South African diaspora in the US and in other countries and create a connection back home to the Silicon Cape community to build bridges into foreign territories
- Act as a common masthead for the high-tech startup community to meet, network and be showcased
- Promote and foster a social network online and offline, of entrepreneurs, engineers, angel investors, and institutional investors
- Foster engagement and networking between different participants
Engagement with Government, NGOs and the Public
Raise awareness of a broad array of issues facing the creation and growth of the ecosystem, and which may even threaten its emergence entirely, such as:
- Exchange controls: inability to freely move currency and IP across borders
- Exchange controls: costs of receiving small foreign currency payments
- Exchange controls: restrictions, prohibitions against and delays in implementing IP-related transaction, e.g. licensing of foreigners, reseller agreements
- Exchange controls: inability to price goods in foreign currency for credit card merchant transactions
- Exchange controls: inability to participate in global digital payment networks such as PayPal
- FAIS Act: currently inhibits establishment of angel networks and smaller VCs, and makes it hard for foreign funds to establish an SA based advisory office
- Income Tax Act: Potential punitive tax consequences of section 8C on commercial VC structuring
- International IP law: staying up to date, e.g. South Africa should sign up to the Madrid Protocol to Paris Convention
- Domestic IP law: Proposed law inhibiting free licensing and/or disposal of any IP arising from any innovation developed with any form of government funding or assistance, potentially including e.g. CSIR, University-developed or supported projects, IDC or DTI SPII-funded projects, et al
- Slow penetration of globally competitive, high-speed, low-cost bandwidth
- Creation of a tax-incentivised zone to promote venture capital investment similar to Israel and elsewhere
- Possible government co-funding of existing, commercially motivated investors and funds