When the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Stellenbosch, Prof. Christo Viljoen, visited the Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park in Taiwan in the 1980s, he realised it would be a fine thing if Stellenbosch could develop its own dedicated science park. The eventual result, Techno Park, has since grown into a hybrid business and technology space, providing a home to some of Stellenbosch’s – and indeed, the country’s – leading companies and start-ups.
From the perspective of TechstelSRA, the non-profit company (NPC) that was formed to run Techno Park when it became a Special Ratings Area in 2015, the exciting growth the Park has seen over the past few years is only the beginning of the story. To overcome some of the challenges it faces in the present, and to embrace opportunities in the future, Techno Park needs to take another step towards re-envisioning itself as a sustainable, mixed-use hub in line with cutting edge global standards of urban innovation.
After a period of consultation with stakeholders and business owners in the Park, TechstelSRA has written to Stellenbosch Municipality with a view to amending the business plan laid out in 2014 for the welfare and management of Techno Park. The amendment proposes a re-allocation of available funds for three primary purposes:
- Improving parking in and access to Techno Park
- Improving public spaces and the maintenance of dams in the Park
- Changing and extending the current zoning of Techno Park
Parking and access has long been a sore point for Techno Parkers, and improvements in this area will clearly benefit everyone who drives in to work. And even thought there are already projects underway to enhance public spaces in the Park, the current drought is playing havoc with dam levels, which has raised the concern of Techno Parkers and will require additional maintenance.
While these improvements are critical in the short-term, the proposed amendments to zonings within the Park are an important step towards achieving the long-term vision of transforming Techno Park into a space where people live, work, play and innovate on a continual basis. Pieter van Heyningen of SustNet and Johan Schutte of the Techno Park Rezoning Subcommittee are in the process of putting together a detailed plan for the motivation, regulation and implementation of these amendments, aiming to bring Techno Park more in line with other successful urban innovation hubs worldwide.
Alan Kay, formerly a member of the distinguished research organisation Xerox PARC, once said that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.” In Techno Park, the business of inventing the future is going ahead at full steam, and you are warmly invited to join the conversation: if you have any ideas, thoughts or questions you’d like to share with the Techno Park community, please do so on our Facebook page, or get in touch via our website.