New partnership forged with India, South Africa incubators
February 09, 2015
On the first anniversary of Zone Startups India (ZSI) − Ryerson’s partnership with the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute − Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy announced an unprecedented trilateral partnership in Mumbai.
Ryerson University, the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute and South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand are creating a new partnership which will accelerate startup incubation and growth opportunities for entrepreneurs in the partner countries.
“This is an exciting day for the next generation of entrepreneurs in our three countries who are ready to take on the world,” said President Levy. “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.”
Professor Adam Habib, vice-chancellor and principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) adds: “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 University will serve as the catalyst for this initiative through its tech hub in Braamfontein.”
Ryerson’s success in developing a rich eco-system for young entrepreneurs has seen the university rise to be the top school for innovation in Canada and rank as one of the top centres in the world. The Canadian government has identified both South Africa and India as key countries for developing and expanding trade and business opportunities. In 2013, Ryerson Futures linked with the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute to bring Ryerson’s incubator concept to India, to catalyze the same entrepreneurial opportunities for startups in India and Canada eager for access to new markets and new opportunities.
"In just under a year, the Mumbai-based accelerator ZSI has proven to be a thriving hotbed of entrepreneurship − 40 startups, focus 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 India,” said ZSI Director Matt Saunders.
“Companies incubated at Zone Startups India range from AutoTranz's intelligent and connected cars, to Focus Analytics' indoor navigation technology and AlgoEngines' solution that enables renewable energy farms to better manage their assets and improve their performance and ROI. Another of our startups, BabyChakra, is helping young parents access information about products and services for their newborn babies. They are all attracting corporate leaders and investors alike,” said ZSI Director of Business Development Ajay Ramasubramaniam.
Just as importantly, the network of zones provides Canadian startups with access to the world market. Figure 1, a successful, secure digital image-sharing app for medical professions, grew out of Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone and is looking to the partnership as a gateway to further investment and development opportunities.
“As we prepare to launch in India and beyond, it’s tremendously helpful to have access to ZoneStartups and its network of local companies and industry leaders,” said Figure 1 CEO Gregory Levey. “This collaboration between Canada, India and South Africa has a lot of potential for companies like Figure 1.”
Wits is a premier research university, and with its Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), is driving a large-scale upgrade of a formerly dilapidated area to host a technology innovation hub called the Tshimologong Precinct. This is part of an ambitious development program to create a new technical heart of South Africa.
“To set up a network like this between three geographically remote partners is unprecedented, but our ambition to make it happen is inspired by the energy and imagination of these young entrepreneurs, who are creating new opportunities, generating prosperity and changing the world,” said Ryerson President Levy.