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IBM Expands Global Research Network Into South Africa

by Susan Mwenesi
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IBM will unveil a new laboratory in Johannesburg beginning April 2015as part of its effort to expand its research in the country that will focus on advancing Big Data, cloud and mobile technologies to support South Africa’s national priorities, drive skills development and foster innovation-based economic growth.

It is a part of a 10-year investment program through the Department of Trade and Industry and working closely with the Department of Science and Technology, the new research facility will be based at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits).

The new lab will be located in the Tshimologong Precinct in Braamfontein – an inner-city area which is today re-emerging as one of Johannesburg’s most dynamic and vibrant districts.

“IBM considers two factors when deciding where to place research labs: access to world-class skills and talent and the ability to work on pressing business and societal challenges that can be best addressed through advanced information technology,” said Dr. John E. Kelly III, Senior Vice President of IBM Solutions Portfolio and Research.

“South Africa provides an exciting backdrop as we look to expand our research efforts in the region. Our Africa-based researchers are part of a global community of IBM scientists who are forging the future of our company and ensuring that we remain at the forefront of scientific discovery.”

“South Africa is amongst the most technologically and scientifically advanced countries in the world,” said Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology. “However, it is essential to increase research and development activities in order to foster innovation and support the further diversification of the economy. We welcome IBM Research to South Africa and offer our very best scientific talent to ensure its long-term success.”

Fostering Innovation IBM’s South Africa researchers will partner extensively with local universities, research institutions, innovation centers, start-ups and government agencies, thus bolstering South Africa’s emerging innovation ecosystem and helping to develop next generation technology skills.

The company has already struck up agreements with Wits University, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to collaborate on research programs and skills development.

“The development of a successful innovation ecosystem is crucial to the further development of the South African economy and the country’s international competitiveness,” said Professor Adam Habib, Vice Chancellor and Principal, Wits University. “IBM Research’s decision to locate in Johannesburg will give a huge boost to a dynamic community of programmers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs and start-ups.”

The lab’s inner-city location will allow IBM’s new researchers to form part of a ‘living lab’ that will explore the role of advanced digital technologies and Big Data analytics in urban renewal. Mobile technologies, global positioning systems, cameras and sensors are becoming ubiquitous in cities, thereby providing opportunities to re-imagine the delivery of services such as transportation, energy and security.

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