BioDurban is an initiative of KRISP at UKZN & eThekweni Municipality.

BioDurban is been created to take advantage of the strength and the uniqueness of the own community. In this regard, South Africa, and the eThekwini Municipality in particular, is rich in indigenous bio-and cultural diversity, including associated knowledge and innovation systems. These have the potential of being developed into unique indigenous innovations, entrepreneurial and commercialized products.

The model advances the following tenets:

A – Recognition and protection of intellectual property of the local knowledge holders and practitioners;

B – Multi-disciplinary approach (human, natural and health sciences) to the commercialization of intellectual capital for wealth creation and poverty eradication;

C – Human capital development with a focus on experiential learning for postgraduates and bidirectional training of both traditional and conventional practitioners.

“The idea of this project is the creation of a Biotechnology Incubator in Durban (BioDurban). It will be centrally located at Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine Campus at KRISP, close to major public hospitals. BioDurban will link academic, IK holders and practitioners, government and private entities in order to perform bidirectional training and teaching, translational research and innovation, and to incubate start-up companies in the health, agricultural and industrial biotechnology sectors.”

The model provides an opportunity for the actualization of the democracy of knowledge systems, whereby, conventional science (genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics) and community-based knowledge systems interact and enrich each other to produce unique commercialized products for the health, agricultural and industrial biotechnology sectors, with beneficiation to society as a whole.

BioDurban services will focus on six main business areas (BA):

BA1 – Indigenous Knowledge Innovation Area (IMBEWU), which means ‘seed’ in isiZulu. This will provide mentoring, business support, information, communication and physical infrastructure to translate indigenous knowledge systems into intellectual capital for production of commercial products.

BA2 – Scientific and technological enabler, which will focus on providing services to academic, grassroot innovators (IKS-holders and practitioners) and commercial clients to incubate start-up companies.

BA3 – Consultancy services, including legal advice, which will provide necessary support for small, medium and micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) that aim to accelerate their business models.

BA4 – Physical space for start-ups to allow them to move from the development to manufacturing phase. The objective here is to provide strong support for start-ups to help them succeed.

BA5 – A Masters in Business Administration, with a clear focus in Science & Technology, will be developed in collaboration with the UKZN Business School. The Scientific & Technological MBA (ST- MBA) will provide fundamental scientific and technological tools for the future generation of corporative leaders.

BA6 – Training, capacity building and a public engagement programme, which focus on providing workshops and events to scientists, IK-holders and practitioners as grassroot innovators and entrepreneurs, will be developed. We will also have a public engagement activity at high schools and higher education institutes (HEIs) in order to increase the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates.

This is an initiative of UKZN with the participation of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the eThekwini municipality.