GE has opened its R500-million Africa Innovation Centre in Johannesburg. 
The 2 700m2 facility is the first for GE in Africa and the 10th GE Innovation Centre globally.
It is the first GREEN- and LEED-certified GE building in sub-Saharan Africa and will be GE’s centre of excellence (COE) for innovation in Africa. It will be the home to GE’s innovation across Africa within its key business sectors such as aviation, energy, healthcare, oil and gas, power and transportation and will serve as the new headquarters for GE Healthcare.
As part of GE’s commitment to support SMEs the building was 90%+ built, designed, and executed by local businesses.
Jay Ireland, president and CEO of GE Africa, comments: “Innovation is shaping how we see the world and how we participate in its development today and into the future.
“GE is committed to driving innovation in Africa for Africa through supporting skills and SME development. The GE Africa Innovation Centre is one platform through which we are using our resources to empower ourselves and our stakeholders to positively contribute towards the sustainable development of Africa.
“We are looking to impact and enhance the career aspirations of over 100 engineers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds,” he adds. “These are young people who will come through the centre and share their innovative solutions whilst learning from some of the best GE minds in their respective fields. They will work across GE’s product portfolio and deliver simplified world-class products to GE customers.”
The facility includes an Experience and Exploration Centre, coffee shop and catering facilities, agile workspaces, a learning and development centre, innovation ideation and collaboration centre, as well as a GE prototyping laboratory and a sustainable healthcare customer experience centre.
The healthcare experience centre is designed to mimic different care areas in a hospital environment and includes focused spaces to help familiarise customers with care area technologies in the operating theatre and intensive care unit, cardiology, oncology, maternal and infant care and general radiology and after sales service.
Featuring virtual and augmented reality displays and a range of installed equipment, visitors will be treated to a glimpse of an interconnected and efficient hospital catering for both primary care settings and premium facilities.
In addition, the centre’s eight new permanent work stations will also provide customers with hands-on clinical education and applications training.
The centre will enable skills and SME development in Africa and serve as the basecamp for the Londvolota Enterprise Development Trust which launched in 2015 with a commitment to accelerating supplier development in South Africa and the equipping of SMEs to participate in the GE value chain.
In South Africa GE has partnered with Transnet SOC to manufacture locomotives for export into the rest of Africa and on the healthcare side was selected as the key technology provider for the new Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, due to open later this year.