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Editor's note

I had the privilege of spending some time in Darmstadt, Germany, in early November, courtesy of SoftwareAG.

BY  Samantha Perry , 3 January 20120 comments

Samantha PerrySamantha Perry


In addition to an update on its business, the company also took the assembled press corps to the Software Cluster, and the European Space Agency. The latter was awesome, and will be the cause of much gushing on my part for some time to come. The former was also incredible, and thought-provoking. Darmstadt is Germany’s technology hub. In addition to a number of software companies, several leading academic institutions are based in the city.

The Software Cluster currently involves 11 000 software firms, 17 IT research centres, 40 IT university chairs, and represents €25 billion revenue, €1,7 billion IT R&D spend, 87 000 employees in IT and software, 15 000 R&D staff, and 36 percent of the world market’s enterprise software.

The cluster is concerned with research, development and innovation, supporting other companies as they make the transition to digital, and supporting IT SMEs, helping them bridge the ‘intellectual property to saleable product’ transition that so many companies fail to navigate successfully. The Cluster was formed by many of the larger successful German software companies, along with other partners (like the academic institutions).

It’s this that got me thinking. Silicon Cape, let’s be honest, doesn’t appear to be making much impact. So how about some of the larger players get together with a few of the smaller players and some of the universities, and start looking at what SA needs to do to prepare for the Information Age? Instead of leaving it up to the individual public and private sector organisations, why not work together? Government, for its part, can provide incentives to help fund this. It’s on a mission to get SA into the digital era, so why not put its money where its public funding mouth is?

The skills shortage has as yet not been resolved. SA is not yet a BPO hub. Our telecommunications costs are high. All of these are issues that government and the private sector have been complaining about, trying to fix, launched any number of initiatives around, and generally not managed to resolve for at least the last decade. Maybe it’s time for a new approach?

Samantha Perry



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