Wits University in partnership to launch Zone Startups in Johannesburg

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The University of Witwatersrand (Wits) has partnered Canada’s Ryerson University and the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute in India to launch Zone Startups, aimed at boosting growth opportunities for entrepreneurs and accelerating startup incubation.

It is the second deal Wits has entered into in the space of a week to encourage startup development in Johannesburg, with Disrupt Africa reporting yesterday IBM is to expand its research project in Africa by investing ZAR700 million (US$61 million) at the university’s Tshimogolong Precinct tech hub in Braamfontein.

The announcement of the latest partnership was made in Mumbai, India, with Wits University vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib and professor of software engineering Barry Dwolatzky present.

Ryerson and the Bombay Stock Exchange first teamed up in 2013 to launch the Zone Startups initiative, with the two organisations having since identified South Africa as a key market for developing and expanding trade and business opportunities.

“This trilateral partnership is exactly the kind of boost that South Africa requires to foster development, innovation and entrepreneurship. The Joburg Centre for Software Engineering at Wits will serve as the catalyst for this initiative through its tech hub in Braamfontein,” said Habib.

“The partners are developing and expanding a multi-country network of innovation and entrepreneurship zones to drive job growth and opportunities in Canada, India and South Africa,” said Ryerson University president Sheldon Levy.

“In just under a year, the Mumbai-based accelerator Zone Startups has proven to be a thriving hotbed of entrepreneurship – 40 startups, focused on industry connections, an array of supportive networking and learning opportunities and access to a pool of venture capital and angel investors keen to harness the energy and innovation at Zone Startups,” said director Matt Saunders.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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