New initiative for ICT SMMEs


The New Media Section, a combined initiative between SmartXchange ICT Hub & Incubator and the Durban Film Office (DFO), has been launched. It is part of the producers’ lab incubator and skills development programme collaboration, set up to explore the synergistic opportunities between the ICT and entertainment media sectors.

The section has been equipped with a state-of-the-art production facility, equipped high-end workstations with 3D modelling/animating, compositing and editing software, a render farm and multimedia presentation systems. Already, a number of training workshops have been facilitated with the SMMEs, to encourage them to engage with the world of new digital media production.

“It provides SMMEs with a support facility for full visual production pipeline which is a critical part in the digital content production that start-up companies often struggle with, as they cannot afford the required software and hardware technology,” says Robynne Erwin, CEO of SmartXchange. “In addition, it will offer the opportunity to explore various aspects of new media technologies. We hope that in time to come, we will see some new talents emerging from these processes.”

The DFO strategy looks at significantly changing the current dynamic, introducing producers to a collaboration of creativity and business skills and creating exciting new opportunities and initiatives, through the development of digital media capabilities in the sector. This vision dovetails with that of SmartXchange, which seeks to proactively encourage small businesses operating in the ICT sector to develop innovative products in emerging areas.

Says Tony Monty, acting CEO of the DFO, “The need to expose our young producers to these new opportunities as well as provide the enabling platform for them to exploit them is critical to evolving our local entertainment media industry.

“The establishment of a resource centre at SmartXchange is the next exciting step in the maturation process of the programme and, thanks to the hard work and generous support of a range of sponsors including ITS Holdings, COA Group, Adobe, Autodesk, Axiz Workgroup, Chaos Group, Intel, Microsoft, Red Giant Software and training sponsors, NEMISA and MICT SETA, local producers will now have access to the latest technology and software.”

Over the past three years, producers / SMMEs who have used the facilities at SmartXchange, have had access to working space, meeting room facilities, copiers, Internet access and the option of renting offices, at a subsidised rate. They have been able to interact with industry experts and mentors, attend workshops on industry-related topics such as financing, production and distribution and been able to draw on the guidance and expertise of players active in the new media space on multiplatform content development, marketing and distribution.

The SMMEs are currently participating in an animation and visual effects capacity-building programme, which will culminate in the participants producing a short film themed ‘Durban in Fifty Years’. The screening and awards of the most promising participants will take place at the end of October. In addition, earlier this year, 20 young aspiring producers also participated in a four-day workshop on pre-production hosted by the National Electronic Media Institute of SA (NEMISA).


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