Made in Africa: Photographed at the launch were (from left, back) George Ferreira (chief operations officer, Samsung), Prof Jean-Paul Van Belle (HoD, Information Systems) and Chris Vermeulen (general manager, Bandwidth Barn). (Front) Ntutele Tshenye (corporate social responsibility, Samsung), Prof Gary Marsden (ICT4D & Mobile Researcher, Computer Science) and Brett Loubser (product manager, Samsung).
UCT and Samsung Electronics have launched a multimillion-rand partnership to develop innovative mobile phone applications in response to unique needs in Africa.
The UCT Samsung Mobile Innovation Laboratory (SMILe), Samsung's first innovation unit in Africa, will increase mobile innovation and skills development. The partners in the joint venture include UCT's Information Systems Department and the Computer Science Department as well as the Cape IT incubator, Bandwidth Barn. The lab has been launched for an initial period of three years.
Brett Loubser, product manager at Samsung South Africa, said: "We chose to partner with UCT as there is a clear alignment not only with our corporate social responsibility programmes, but also with our vision of developing technology that is 'Built in Africa, for Africa, by Africa'."
Professor Gary Marsden of Computer Science added: "The African continent in general, and South Africa in particular, poses unique challenges, constraints and opportunities in respect of innovative mobile applications. There is a need for a creative application development space where innovative ideas can be explored."
This is the first time that a multi-disciplinary laboratory of this nature has been developed and will explore how Samsung mobile technology can be used by African students to address technology needs within Africa.
The laboratory is the brainchild of Professor Jean-Paul Van Belle, head of Information Systems at UCT.
"The Department of Information Systems at UCT is recognised internationally as an ideal environment for nurturing the innovation professionals of the future and we are delighted that Samsung has selected our campus as its first research partner in Africa," said Van Belle.
The initiative will bring together academics, practitioners and researchers to pursue innovative research and to develop leading-edge products and applications that will improve the quality of life and provide unique solutions to African needs.
General manager of Bandwidth Barn, Chris Vermeulen, said that each year between 10 and 20 prototype mobile applications would be developed and the most promising of these fast-tracked to commercialise the technology.
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