Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who has helped The Cortex Hub this year. This includes, but not exclusive to, our board team, entrepreneurs, partners, sponsors and everyone who played a vital role in making this year a success.
We would like to take this opportunity to give you an update on what has been happening within the Cortex Hub this year and what we would like to achieve in coming year.
The Cortex Hub
Established in January 2015, The Cortex Hub is an ICT business incubator which aims to produce global ICT players through leading research and development, business incubation and business acceleration platforms that will activate, nurture and support technology innovation. Since its inception, the goal of The Cortex Hub has been to create an innovative society that is able to sustainably leverage current technologies towards solving societal problems.
The vehicle for achieving this goal has always been through the establishment of sustainable technology start-ups, strong partnerships with universities, ICT providers, entrepreneurs and other business incubators to create a robust entrepreneurship ecosystem within and beyond the Eastern Cape region. Though the task is itself quite large, we believe that the right mix of committed people, enthusiasm and hard work will help in building the bridge between the dream we have proposed, and the gains of making it a reality.
Our timeline consists of a number of explicit subdivisions designed to guide our entrepreneurs in the journey of starting and developing their own businesses. The training portion of the timeline, which fulfilled its objective of equipping them with the skills and knowledge required to create the products they will bring to market at the conclusion of 2016, was critical during this period.
Through the training provided we saw our entrepreneurs learning various skills from expert teachers provided by the Oracle University, which set them up with the knowledge required not only to build their own products and services, but also prepared them for later certification from the Oracle University.
One of the highlights of this period occurred on 20 July 2015 when The Cortex Hub had the pleasure of hosting some of the Oracle University’s highly esteemed Directors for the graduation ceremony. The visitors consisted of Wendy Beetge, Oracle’s Transformation Director; Pragasen Moodley, Oracle University Director; delegates from MICT SETA and the founder of The Cortex Hub and Chairman of Dimension Data MEA, Dr. Andile Ngcaba.
The Cortex Hub is proud to announce that each of its entrepreneurs underwent and successfully completed Oracle University’s Java Fundamental (SE7) Training. Widely known as a staple in the software industry, this training enables our entrepreneurs to develop enterprise grade software using the Java programming language. Pursuant to this, our entrepreneurs now have the opportunity to further pursue four levels of certification, namely: associate, professional, master and expert, in areas such as database, Linux and various other business applications.
We are extremely proud of our entrepreneurs and grateful to the Oracle University and mostly, extremely excited to see how the skills acquired during this training will contribute towards the game-changing companies that will soon emerge from The Cortex Hub.
Click here to read our Oracle University blog post.
Women Hackers Unite
In celebration of women’s month, August 2015, the Cortex Hub hosted its inaugural Women Hackers Unite Hackathon and Conference. About 100 women from across the continent gathered at the Cortex Hub in East London. The women came ready to work for 72 hours to come up with a creative and business savvy software solution to a problem currently facing women.
Women Hackers Unites’ main focus is to empower and encourage women to showcase their talent while solving problems relating to the theme presented in that year. Preparation for Women Hackers Unite 2016 has already started and the theme will focus on developing solutions that affect the youth of today – #YouthEmpowerment.
Click here to read more about Women Hackers Unite.
What The Entrepreneurs Have Achieved This Year
The Cortex Hub time line emphasises learning in its first year. Our belief being that a successful entrepreneur is bolstered not only business smarts and boardroom savvy, but by an understanding of the industry that they function within.
Our entrepreneurs started this year by building this foundation, gaining an understanding of the national and international bodies which regulate the tech industry. These included internet bodies such as ICANN, academic bodies such as IEEE and bodies in emerging industries such as the Connected Car Consortium.
Following this brief introduction to the industry, our entrepreneurs have completed training in a number of fields including alternative energies, the Internet of Things, Big Data, Machine Learning and Cyber Security and Warfare. This theoretical knowledge has been further bolstered by practice, with our entrepreneurs founding internal Research and Development focus groups in each of these fields. The mandate of these focus groups has been to take this knowledge from theory and make it real by finding applicable business cases and creating products that can be sold to real customers.
We are proud to say that to date our entrepreneurs have built product environments that have facilitated the building of prototypes based on customer demand and will be able to ship products by February next year.
San Francisco Trip
During the week of 23 October to 1 November, The Cortex Hub sent delegates consisting of board members and entrepreneurs to San Francisco, USA. The objective of the trip was to familiarise the representatives of The Cortex Hub with the entrepreneurial culture and eco-system of Silicon Valley while giving the team an opportunity to assess incubators/accelerators which in turn will help them construct an informative decision on which incubator/accelerator to partner with from that region.
The partnership will enable us to relocate our best performing business or the entrepreneurs that shows the most potential and development at the Cortex Hub to the chosen partner incubator/accelerator in order for them to learn Silicon Valley techniques used to scale businesses, whilst also receiving exposure to some of the world’s most powerful venture capital firms and investors.
Click here to read more about the trip and the findings from the team about the accelerators and incubators in Silicon Valley.
Future Highlights of What We Want To Achieve Next Year with The Cortex Hub
Achieving the goal of creating global ICT players will require The Cortex Hub to provide business creation platforms that allow for its entrepreneurs to both think at scale, and effectively create businesses that will have a meaningful impact on global markets.
The Cortex Hub aims to achieve this goal through three vehicles, namely:
- An incubation platform, which will behave as a learning and development platform that will give entrepreneurs both theoretical and practical experience in key business fields such as assessing markets, pitching ideas, creating products and using the lean approach to develop platforms;
- An acceleration platform, which will provide entrepreneurs with focused mentoring if for their specific start-ups as well as giving them greater exposure to further funding opportunities and the global Venture Capital community; and
- A global connection platform, which will give our entrepreneurs access to a global community of entrepreneurs, experts, academics and stakeholders that will allow them to challenge their thinking with industry while building their reputation outside the Hub.
While The Cortex Hub is certainly no stranger to business incubation, our recent visit to Silicon Valley, coupled with guidance gained from an international community of friends and mentors, informs our decision that this is the right choice to building something world class. We look forward to building on the learnings of 2016, and are sure that this will be a fruitful year.
It goes without saying that the achievement of this goal impossible without the continued support of our mentor and advisor communities and the support gained from our corporate partners. While the contributions of each individual partner has been extremely important, The Cortex Hub would like to specially thank both Convergence Partners and MICT SETA for their special contributions towards establishing The Cortex Hub and to keeping it running through the contribution of entrepreneurial stipends – a gesture which opened the doors of The Cortex Hub to a number of entrepreneurs who would have otherwise not have been able to join us for this year.
We look forward to working with each of our partners in the coming year and know that we will continue to do more together.
The Cortex Hub Team