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A key partnership has been established to create ONEBIO – a Pan-African biotech incubator – that will support life science entrepreneurs and innovators from across the continent to commercialise and scale biotech startups.

Cape Town, South Africa, April 24 2018

The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), together with entrepreneurs Michael Fichardt and Dr. Nick Walker, today announced that they have signed a collaboration agreement with the Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research (CPGR) to launch a bespoke biotech incubator, ONEBIO.

ONEBIO will provide life science startups with funding, business support, lab facilities and office space; access to networks; mentorship; and connections to resources, international markets and large corporate partners, both in Africa and internationally. Led by Michael Fichardt and Nick Walker, the incubator will build on the unique expertise and experience of CiTi and CPGR, who have been successfully providing business incubation and biotech support services respectively, for more than a decade.

ONEBIO will support startups at the convergence of laboratory work and computational science and will draw projects/talent from a diversity of disciplines, including material science, energy, food, natural products, nutraceuticals, agriculture and healthcare. Through its work, ONEBIO will build and nurture a connected Pan-African innovation ecosystem, helping Africa become a center of global biotech innovation.

Internationally, a growing number of opportunities are emerging for life science entrepreneurs, with leading startup accelerators, such as San Francisco-based IndieBio and Y-Combinator, providing funding and business acceleration services to the biotech vertical. The South Africa government has recognized the opportunity for the country to flourish as a globally competitive biotechnology economy, launching the ‘The Bio-economy Strategy’ in 2013. The vision is for South Africa’s bio-economy to be a significant contributor to the country’s economy by 2050. ONEBIO will support this goal with the development of critical entrepreneurial skills and support for home-grown biotech ventures.

Ian Merrington, CEO of CiTi, says “We have such an enormous opportunity to use technology for good, in Africa. At CiTi we believe that biotech is the next frontier where exponential tech enabled innovation can unlock affordable solutions to Africa’s health challenges. In addition to this, the convergence of ONEBIO with CiTI’s data cluster and the capability of the Explore Data Science Academy , provides a unique and possibly magic recipe for world class success!”

“We are excited about the ONEBIO partnership because it allows us to combine CPGR’s experience in enabling African biotech endeavors through cutting-edge laboratory & bio-informatic services with CiTi’s track record in supporting and accelerating entrepreneurs”, said Dr Reinhard Hiller. “ONEBIO will have a strong focus on grooming successful African biotech jockeys, in a lean startup and execution-focused program. We are excited about the opportunity to further contribute to the creation of a vibrant African biotech eco-system.”

“Today, biology as a technology is at a similar inflection point as the software industry was in the mid-1980s, poised for staggering growth. Biological tools and techniques continue to improve at exponential rates and investors are beginning to understanding the incredible potential of the tech. ONEBIO will provide a platform for African biotech entrepreneurs to be part of this next global wave of innovation.” Michael Fichardt, CEO and Co-founder ONEBIO.

ONEBIO is currently looking to connect with potential partners and biotech startups who would like to register early stage interest in the programme. Visit the ONBIO website– www.onebio.africa – to get find out more and connect with us.

About Michael Fichardt and Dr. Nick Walker

Having met through Singularity University’s flagship Global Solutions Program, Dr. Nick Walker and Michael Fichardt have extensive business, finance, entrepreneurial and scientific experience to lead Africa’s first major biotech incubator. Michael Fichardt, is an entrepreneur, technologist and investor, with experience working in banking, private equity and technology startups. He is the Head of Singularity University’s Cape Town Chapter. He holds an MBA, a Bachelor of Commerce. Dr. Nick Walker, is a scientist, entrepreneur and venture builder. He received his PhD from UKZN with research in muscle stem cell biology and has been working in business development and innovation at Next Biosciences since 2016.

About CiTi

The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) is Africa’s oldest technology incubator, and an organisation (NPO) instrumental in developing Africa’s vibrant technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem. CiTi’s mandate is to promote inclusion in the digital economy, achieved through startup incubation; future-focused technology skills and job-readiness programmes; and curating and supporting key technology innovation clusters – currently Edtech, Fintech, Traveltech and Data Science. CiTi has two technology innovation hubs in Cape Town – the Bandwidth Barns home to technology startups, specialised business incubators and local and international corporate innovation labs as well as Technology Training venues in Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth. CiTi has 19 years’ experience supporting technology entrepreneurs, from idea to scale, and CiTi has broadened its reach across Africa with its Injini Edtech Incubator, based in Cape Town, which supports and invests in Pan-African education innovators.

About CPGR

The Centre for Proteomic Research (CPGR) is a non-profit company located in Cape Town, South Africa, based on an initiative by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), and financially supported by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA). The CPGR combines state-of-the-art information-rich genomic and proteomic (‘omics’) technologies with bio-computational pipelines to render services and support projects in the life science and biomedical arena in (South) Africa, all run in an ISO 9001:2015 certified and ISO 17025 compliant quality management system.

Among others, the CPGR has recently launched an accelerator program to stimulate the creation of South African start-ups based on ‘omics’ technologies and set up Artisan Biomed to develop Precision Medicine solutions in (South) Africa. While situated in Cape Town, South Africa, the CPGR’s area of activity is increasingly the African continent, with a focus on biomedical research and innovation.

Contact Details

Michael Fichardt, CEO and Co-founder, ONEBIO – michael@onebio.africa

Claire Jowell, Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative – claire.jowell@citi.org.za

Reinhard Hiller, CPGR – reinhard.hiller@cpgr.org.za