Welcome to the Silicon Cape Initiative!

Silicon Cape
09 Sep 2009

I hope that you will join us in being a part of the conversations that ultimately turn the vision into reality.

When my good friend Vinny Lingham and I spent a few weeks together in Silicon Valley in early 2009, we quickly realised that we shared a passion for the idea that the Cape in South Africa had the potential to become the Silicon Valley of Africa. This led to many a late night discussion filled with enthusiasm and ideas, and ultimately the birth of this movement.

Both being investors and entrepreneurs in the area, we were both aware of an increasing number of tech startups emerging, and of an increasing number of people who were already working in the Silicon Cape and were passionate about it. Of course, we aren’t quite there yet… there are still a number of challenges that face us and need to be addressed to make the dream come true.

Thus we realised that now more than ever was the ideal time to create a brand, an idea, a masthead that the community could own and that everyone could rally around to focus their energy on in a cohesive effort that would ultimately benefit our home country, by attracting the best entrepreneurs, technical brains, and foreign direct investment.

We loved the term Silicon Cape which Vinny and others had already started to popularise, so it seemed a natural fit for a global brand for the concept. I quickly realised that this could be the ideal channel for 4Di Capital‘s community- and ecosystem-building philanthropic ambitions and budget, so we agreed to be the lead sponsor in kicking things off.

To launch the concept, we are hosting a morning event together with some partners in the incubation and investor space, where we are hoping to bring together key stakeholders from all sectors — entrepreneurs, investors, marketers, media, big business, and local government. We are going to try and accommodate everybody that would like to join us at this first event, but we fully intend that via social media and the web all will be involved. We are going to have live blogging and twittering on the day, as well as posting the presentations on this site. Please register your interest in attending on this website.

If you are reading this, this is your community and your movement – so please go ahead, join us here on this site, and be a part of the discussions going forward. Follow us on Twitter via @SiliconCape and tag your tweets with #SiliconCape!

Our ultimate aim after this first event is to attract a potent working group of volunteers and donors to establish a foundation with us which will carry the vision forward.

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 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. As a community member, come and be a part of the genesis of turning the Silicon Cape into reality.

The initiative aims 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 Silicon Valley of Africa, and to create 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 Cape and it’s residents and stakeholders, and assist in attracting further foreign direct investment into South Africa.

The aim by the end of the first event is to catalyse widespread conversation around the concept online and offline, build a global brand, and to establish a working group of volunteers and donors to take the vision forward and see it through to reality, garnering support from all sectors and stakeholders and ultimately establishing a foundation. The event is due to be attended and addressed by the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille.

Why the Cape? Does Silicon Cape exclude the rest of South Africa?
Not at all. The whole of South Africa is most definitely included and everyone is invited. South Africa as a whole is without doubt the technological powerhouse of Africa. However, much like with Silicon Valley, we feel that an initiative and a brand like this needs a focal point, and that the Cape contains the unique mix of all of the varied ingredients that ultimately serve to bring together the right participants. This would already seem to be evidenced by the number of tech startups which are Cape based.

Who owns the name and the brand Silicon Cape?
You and everybody else who believes in South Africa. It is a community owned effort. A non-profit foundation will be established in due course to protect and promote the brand here and around the world, however.

How do I get an invite to the first event?
As the inaugural event is being sponsored by a small group of people and companies, we have limited resources at this time. We would love to include everybody after the incredible outpouring of support for the initiative, and intend to do try and do so by increasing the event capacity and ensuring offsite involvement via interactive and online media. Please register your interest in attending in the event created on this site.

How does CITI, Bandwidth Barn, and other great projects fit in with Silicon Cape?
Silicon Cape doesn’t exist to compete with or duplicate the great work done by these projects. They are all very complementary to each other and very necessary, and indeed Silicon Cape can highlight the opportunities that they create and work together with them.
Silicon Cape is more of an awareness campaign and a global brand which serves to catalyse conversation, attract interest and highlight opportunities and challenges, and create a focal point that the community across the board can own and rally around.
“I love the Silicon Cape” or “Made in the Silicon Cape” might be the kind of supporter badges you will see on company or personal websites in the future, for example. One day, foreign visitors stepping out of Cape Town International Airport on their arrival might even see a billboard saying “You are now entering the Silicon Cape”, or “Welcome to the Silicon Cape”.