Authored by: Lucienne Abrahams

Abstract: This Working Paper sets out a view of the nature of three South African tech hubs, their modes of knowledge enablement, their complex context of knowledge creation, their measures of success or failure, and their evolution. Based on case studies conducted in 2016-17 at the Bandwidth Barn Khayelitsha (Cape Town), Workshop 17 (Cape Town), and the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, this paper aims to understand tech hubs’ distinctiveness as a formation emerging in the early 21st century, as well as the commonalities that lead to “scaling up” in tech hubs. The research found that the ingenuity of the tech community is a key ingredient in tech hub evolution, although this evolution is tempered by adversity encountered due to low-resourced environments and the challenges of soft processes. Values of sharing and communitarianism have the potential to lift the tech hub beyond its constraints. A sense of innovation entanglement resonates through the words of the respondents, showing a deep engagement with digital enablement as users and producers.

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