Tech start-ups meet with Lord Mayor of London

A meeting between the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Michael Bear, and a select group of South African technology companies has laid the platform that could well launch South Africa’s ambitions to become a global technology player

September 7, 2011

This follows the firm decision taken at the meeting to send a delegation of local companies to participate in the TechWorld Conference in London later this year.

The meeting in Cape Town on Monday, 5 September 2011, was facilitated by UK Trade Investment (UKTI), the UK government’s trade promotion body, the Silicon Cape Initiative, and venture capital fund Invenfin. The Lord Mayor met with eleven CEOs who were invited to explore opportunities of mutual benefit.

“This is very exciting and gratifying as it’s exactly the type of catalytic role that Silicon Cape has always aimed to play,” says Rob Stokes, chairman of the Silicon Cape Initiative. “What is most rewarding is that UKTI recognises the mutual interests that will be met: not only do they see South Africa as the gateway to Africa, but also want to attract businesses that see the UK as the gateway to Europe.”

The Silicon Cape Initiative is a non-profit, community owned and driven body that seeks to support the growth of the local technology industry by bringing together entrepreneurs, technologists, venture capitalists, angel investors, and IT industry professionals. Among its aims are to promote South Africa as a breeding ground of world-class technology solutions, thereby attracting local and international investment in the sector.

Among the companies present at the meeting were Motribe, the mobile community platform, OutProsys, a leading outsourced document processing provider, RSAWEB, an established Internet Services Provider, and online advertising marketplace Ad:Dynamo. Other participants included Trust Fabric, Pinewood SA, DVT, Idea Bounty, Business Systems Group, Open Box Software, and Baird’s Renaissance.

“The common thread between all participants is their active or planned presence in the UK market, so it was very apt that they were invited,” says Alex Fraser of Invenfin, and a Silicon Cape executive committee member. “With the opportunity presented by UKTI’s offer of facilitating the delegation, we can now throw the net wider to invite along other companies that wish to expand their operations. TechWorld is the perfect platform from which to introduce South African companies and build the necessary linkages to leverage common opportunities.”

The Lord Mayor urged South African cities, such as Cape Town where Silicon Cape originated, to look at how London created clusters of innovation and excellence to drive its technology industry. He added that public-private start-up cultures centre on regions or cities.

“The discussion was both positive and constructive because many common touch points were identified, with the confirmation of the TechWorld delegation being an added bonus,” says Fraser. “We have no doubt that South African entrepreneurs have the drive and innovation to play on a global scale, and we are happy to be contributing to that.”

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