Welcome to BioDurban. This is your advanced biotechnology incubator part in Durban, South Africa. We are excited to transform Durban in the centre of bioinnovation in Africa and hopefully, one of the centres of the world!
Despite being a very industrialised country, having fantastic natural resources and biodiversity, and having well-respected higher education and training institutions (i.e. five Universities in the top 400 Universities in the world), South Africa still imports new technologies instead of developing them. The primary role of the South African pharmaceutical industry, for example, is to distribute imported pharmaceutical ingredients in the form of drugs and hardly any of the innovative molecular diagnostics and medical devices used in South Africa are manufactured locally. Analysis of The Global Competitiveness Report (2017-2018) reveals that South Africa is ranked 61 out of 137 countries, dropping 14 places in one year, which is not a good position for a country with its potential.
To translate South Africa’s scientific excellence and biodiversity into new commercial products, we propose to create BioDurban, a cutting-edge Bio-Innovation Science Park in South Africa that links academic, government and private entities in order to perform earlier stage research and innovation and incubate start-up companies in the health, agricultural and industrial biotechnology sectors.
We plan to address some of the key problems of the implementation of the bio-economy strategy. For example, we will work in coordination with many government agencies (i.e. TIA, DST, SAMRC, DTI, Innovate Durban, EThekwini Municipality) to create BioDurban. We will also provide focused training in biotechnology innovation with key international partners (i.e. Stanford, Singularity, Barcelona Science Park and Biominas) and will create local manufacturing capacity from in collaboration with a large multi-national company (Thermo-Fisher Scientific, USA). Furthermore, we expect to use our expertise and strong international collaboration in life-science innovation to attract public and private funding. In order to develop this business plan, and an innovative solution that is likely to succeed in South Africa, we have spent the last few years learning from some of the best international bio-incubation models in Europe, USA and South America.
Our goal is for BioDurban to become the epicenter of biotechnology innovation in Africa.
This is what our partners in the Barcelona Science Park did for Stanford SPARK in the USA, Barcelona in Europe and what Biominas did for Belo Horizonte in South America. We believe that we have the scientific environment, the expertise and the drive to make this possible. For example, the UKZN Strategic Plan 2017–2021 puts innovation and entrepreneurship as the University’s main future focus. UKZN is one of the leading research Universities on the continent and has many technology platforms and service units that can support the development of biotechnology spin-off companies. UKZN and KRISP has also committed to provide the BioDurban initiative with world-class infrastructure (building, labs, offices and shared working space) in its most advanced building, the K-RITH tower building complex, which cost ZAR 1 billion to construct.