The Innovate Durban Innovation Co-lab in Cato Manor is operational again and is burning with innovation and technology driven entrepreneurship. This comes after the Lab was destroyed during the civil unrest in Durban last year.
The US Consulate General Durban Anne Linnee was the headline speaker, as she and 45 guests from the Durban innovation ecosystem reopened the Innovation Co-lab. Other speakers included Justice Matarutse from eThekwini Municipality, Anitha Ramsuran, General Manager for inclusive innovation at the Technology Innovation Agency, and Aurelia Albert, Chief Executive Officer of Innovate Durban.
The reopening was held on 11 May where Linnee unveiled a special American Space at the Lab. The American Space will allow for various American business content and resources to be made accessible to the local community. During 2019 and early 2020, Innovate Durban established the first township innovation Lab in KwaZulu-Natal. During the 2021 civil unrest, the Lab suffered equipment and structural damage totalling R1.6 million. The Lab is designed to empower people to become more innovative in problem-solving, create opportunities for new businesses, create jobs, and tackle social issues in their community.
It houses experts who provide much needed technical skills to the surrounding township community and the greater Durban region. The Lab is equipped with digital training rooms for various classes such as software, design thinking, coding, and robotics. It is also equipped with drone building technology, laser cutting machines, 3D printers, and robotic kits.
Albert, speaking at the event, said the labs are an actualisation of national government’s plan to expand these hubs into rural and township areas. “Innovate Durban is aligned to the Department of Science and Innovation’s plans to establish Living Labs across the country in an effort to encourage the co-creation of solutions at a community level and to drive local economic development,” she said.