Celebrating 5 years of mobile app development in Technopark, Stellenbosch, South Africa

With just over 155,000 people in a university town, at first glance one would assume Stellenbosch is more about the wine farms and the beautiful hikes. And it is. The wine is award winning and hundreds of locals and international travelers hike our mountains daily.

But Stellenbosch offers even more in it’s relatively small in comparison to huge office parks; Technopark. A hub of innovation, the space has become home to giants like Capitec and is the place Polymorph has called home for five years. The roots of innovation show up clearly in Technopark’s origin story. In the 1970’s Prof. Christo Viljoen, then vice-dean of Stellenbosch University’s Engineering Faculty visited Taiwan’s Shishu Science Park and came back awed by the success of the park. With buy-in from local and national government, he set about establishing the Science Park and by 1985, with the support of the the Industrial Development Corporation, it housed an incubator and innovation lab.

It was only in the 1990’s that an economic downturn forced a relaxation in the criteria by which a firm could set up in Technopark that allowed for the growth of the space. Since then, Technopark has grown steadily. We set up Polymorph’s offices in Technopark because of the incredible knowledge and innovation happening here.

Because much of our mobile app development and product innovation takes place in Fintech and Medtech, we cannot divulge many of our successful products. But we can share two or three that stand out and we would like to celebrate the innovation and future thinking of some of the great minds we have worked with .

iKubu
Way back in 2011, long before iKubu developed their Backtracker Bicycle Radar (and subsequently was acquired by Garmin), we partnered with them to build the Android app for international music streaming website 22Tracks (www.22tracks.com). I remember personally doing most of the coding! This was in the early days of Android, well before Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play Music started to dominate. We built the first version of this app in 6 weeks.

Diacoustic Medical Devices
Product development can be a long journey, but building a product that could pass FDA certification requires that one learns about the domain of the medical device and the needs it help to address. This requires single minded focus and a deep understanding of the user, product and client. The product we helped to developed with Diacoustic Medical Devices (https://sensicardiac.com/) was our first app that was in that sphere. An app that provides the user interface to a medical device, allowing the recording, playback and processing of data from the device.

Capitec
Building a Fintech app inevitably has layers of complexity. Sometimes the client adds additional, and sometimes unhelpful complexities of its own… not so in this case. Polymorph was involved at many levels from daily/weekly client meetings to app architecture and writing the code. Our developers enjoyed working in a fantastic team that supported and helped each other. One of the highlights with this Capitec project was that we managed to re-implement the styling in a very short amount of time. It was a great feeling when the app finally was released to the public: we had built something with our client that a lot of people started to use and are still using today.

Mezzanine (http://www.mezzanineware.com/)
We built the foundation of what became their mobile platform, which includes an automatic data-synchronisation system with full offline capabilities for every app developed on top of the platform. It also provides multi-user capabilities where several people in different roles can use the same device. A highlight on this project was developing something incredibly complex that acted almost as a complete platform on top of another platform (Android). We had to develop major parts of an ORM solution, the data synchronisation system, and even code that tried to figure out the best way to layout a set of user-interface widgets.

There’s a lot of innovation happening in Technopark, and a feeling of collaboration rather than developing in isolation and being over protective of your territory. As Jason Morris commented when we spoke about his work as a developer: “If you want to be at the cutting edge, you probably need to be in Technopark”.

We recently joined forces with Alphawave whose roots go down deep in Technopark. Teaming up with their strong technical and business expertise, we are expecting to expand our footprint in both South African and International markets, but will keep our home in Technopark, Stellenbosch – where wine and product innovation forms a delightful blend.

#lovingstellenbosch

About the Author
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Richard Barry

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CEO of Polymorph

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