Plan to make Durban the biotech capital of Africa

30 September 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202020735

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Plan to make Durban the biotech capital of Africa

BIODURBAN, a biotech incubation initiative between the eThekwini Municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal Research, Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), has created a new space for bio-innovation and the translation of science and local biodiversity into commercially viable products.

“South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal’s rich biodiversity combined with the scientific excellence and world-class infrastructure found within the Higher Education Institutions in Durban, creates the perfect foundation to grow Durban as the biotech capital of Africa,” said Professor Tulio de Oliveira, director of KRISP.

Individuals or teams with scientific ideas that have the potential to deliver innovations for diagnosis of infectious diseases and therapeutics have been invited to apply for a project grant of up to R300,000. This funding is offered to enable scientists to conduct critical, value-adding experiments to de-risk early stage projects and to help advance their ideas to market.

The opportunity is also open to innovators from indigenous knowledge systems. The deadline for these applications is 6pm on the 21 October 2020.

Gugulethu Mkhize, group lead for the KRISP Business Development Unit said, “BioDurban extends its invitation to interested members of society and organisations, who have value-add in terms of expert knowledge and experience; to get involved in the initiative and contribute advice and mentorship to the cohort of innovators that will be selected.”

Through a capacity-building program, BioDurban will link academic, government and private entities in order to perform translational research and innovation. The long-term goal of this initiative is to incubate start-up and small and medium enterprises (SMMEs) companies in the health, agricultural and industrial biotechnology sectors.

Dr Ajiv Maharaj, Deputy Head, eThekwini Municipality, Economic Development Unit said, “We see value in the generation of new biotechnology start-ups that will be created through the Spark Acceleration Programme and the local job potential.

“The work being done by Prof Tulio De Oliveria and his colleagues is truly world-class and will continue to put Durban and the forefront of global innovation.”

As part of the BioDurban Program, the SPARK South Africa Innovation Breakfasts will start again in October 2020 and are scheduled to take place on the first Wednesday of every month at 7.30am. This webinar is open to the public and will cover a range of scientific and entrepreneurial topics.

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