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Big corporates choose small IT innovators

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Corporate South Africa is stepping out of its usual pattern of using only large international agencies and is supporting small IT start-ups based in the Bandwidth Barn. An increasing number of tenants are signing contracts with large companies – including Nokia, MTN, Anglo Platinum Mines, Miller Genuine Draft and The Times – to do innovative development work. 

According to Mark Parsons, director at d6 media, Bandwidth Barn’s reputation and location adds credibility to their endeavours to land contracts with large organisations.
“The support structure at the Barn also makes it easy for start-ups to get up and running,” he says. “But a key differentiator is that we are doing work that other people are not, and this innovation is attracting business from corporates.”
d6 media designs desktop communicators – an application that sits on the computer’s desktop which collects live data via the Internet.  The communicator automatically updates itself, giving the user access to the latest information.  
d6 media recently designed a communicator for MTN for the domestic cricket championship.  The communicator was geared to providing a tailored experience where users could select the team they supported, and get all the relevant information in real-time, including fixtures and results.  A similar solution was commissioned by The Times for the Rugby World Cup, and Millers Genuine Draft used the communicator as a marketing tool to drive people to their website.
Another tenant, Betterhealth Global South Africa (BHG), provides healthcare screening for Anglo Platinum Mines (APM). To date, BHG has 145 000 medical records of APM employees stored on its system based in the Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town. These records can be accessed by approved APM personnel from any of the company’s seven sites across South Africa.
BHG also provided healthcare screening for about 8 000 athletes at the 2007 Special Olympic Games in Shanghai. Special Olympics is the world’s largest amateur sports organisation, and provides year-round training and competition in 26 Olympic-type summer and winter sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Nokia approached another Bandwidth Barn tenant, PeerPower, to run a peer-to-peer mentoring programme, through its Mobile Leaders Society.  The aim of the programme was to facilitate leadership enhancement in SA, and better networking amongst business leaders. PeerPower brought together 21 business owners into three peer groups to share knowledge, expertise and best practices across industries.
Research Africa, a Bandwidth Barn tenant, produces a science policy magazine and web-based database of funders for universities in Africa.  Leading SA universities including the University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg, University of Stellenbosch, as well as Nigeria-based universities such as the University of Ibadan and Bayero University, and the East Africa University in Uganda use the system. Research Africa sells licences to their site, which gives the universities access to critical funding information, including requirements, criteria and deadlines, enabling them to communicate directly with the funder.