Microsoft SA is to continue its investment in the JCSE (Joburg Centre for Software Engineering) at Wits University to assist local software development companies in developing solutions for various sectors within the local economy. This initiative is also aimed at start-ups and incubators that wish to take their solution to market in the next 12-18 months. 

David Ives, Microsoft Developer and Platform Group Director, says the company will increase its offering at the Microsoft Innovation Centre housed in the JCSE, with the addition of hardware, software and training courses targeted at small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
“We will be putting in a high-end Dell server which will enable companies to run proof-of-concepts. The focus will be on testing software designed for a multi-core environment and how to take full advantage of the capacity delivered by a next generation server like the one provided by Dell,” he says.
In addition, Microsoft will be launching an IP incubation programme in conjunction with the JCSE. Ives says as part of the programme, Microsoft will provide selected SMEs with a software and technical support bundle worth over R65 000 each. This will enable SMEs to utilise the latest software and receive the technical support needed to develop new solutions for the market.
Prof Barry Dwolatzky, JCSE CEO and director, says the JCSE will be inviting SMEs to put forward proposals describing their concept in detail and a business plan for the roll out of the software once it has been developed. Potential projects will include solutions for the financial, health, mining and government sectors.
“Being based in Braamfontein, the JCSE is ideally situated to work closely with these four major sectors within the local economy,” Dwolatzky says.
Furthermore the key focus for the incubation programme will be to provide SMEs with consulting and technical input into their businesses.
“Too many incubation programmes focus on only providing business skills and infrastructure support to start ups. However, given the complex nature of the software development environment, the technical support and consulting which Microsoft and the JCSE will provide will be vital for the chosen development companies to have the best shot at success.”
An industry panel comprising the JCSE, Microsoft and two or three JCSE partners will assess applications from SMEs and start ups for their viability, Dwolatzky says.
Ives says the Innovation Centre will also be used as a training facility for both Microsoft and the JCSE.
“Microsoft will also bring some of its clients into the lab to run architectural design sessions. These designs will then be moved into a proof of concept phase which will be conducted in the Centre,” he says.
The Innovation Centre will also house a reference library, with training material and webcasts being made available on the PCs.
Dwolatzky adds that the new software and hardware will enable the JCSE and its other partners to run specialised courses in the Centre, as part of the JCSEs mandate to boost the overall level of skills within the sector