Following the screening of applications, OneBio has selected a shortlist of candidate to enroll in an intensive tailor-made bio-entrepreneurship program
October 2, 2018 —Cape Town, South Africa — To broaden its approach to stimulating and supporting bio-entrepreneurship in South Africa, OneBio agreed with UWC to host a bespoke program at the University campus.
Working with the Cape Town based University allowed OneBio to concentrate its effort on a single ecosystem and to leverage resources provided by the resident Technology Transfer Office (TTO).
A key aim of the UWC initiative was to gauge scope, maturity and volume of startup project applications; it deliberately cast a wide net to evaluate demand and value of opportunity.
Data collected after the first round of applications reveal the following:
- 12 submissions were received in total
- 7 (58%) were shortlisted for inclusion in the incubator program
- More than 60% of prospective entrepreneurs had a degree of MSc or higher (Fig 1, A)
- Projects varied greatly in terms of technical and/or scientific approach employed (Fig 1, B)
- Most (75%) applications were at an early or idea stage (Fig 1, C)
- A little more than half (58%) of submissions were made by single entrepreneurs (Fig 1, D)
The projects that made it into the first round of the program are:
A-Grow offers customised biofertilizers containing a unique mix of microorganisms, plant growth promoting substances and soil-and-plant immunising bacteriophages. The combination of a biofertilizer with phage therapy makes their product and concept unique. Phage therapy is a more economical, safe and environmentally-friendly “cutting-edge technology” alternative to conventional pesticide treatments.
AMR Biotech is a diagnostic service focusing on the detection, surveillance, and treatment of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) pathogens in South Africa. Their aim is to provide traditional diagnostic support, low cost phenomic testing, and a live database mapping AMR.
BioID proposes to formulate a highly specific method of human identification, incorporating an individual’s gDNA or microbiome, as a means of improving the security in existing identification technologies. This method is aimed at eliminating the element of fraud in personal security and existing biometric identifiers.
BiliGen bioscience is developing a multiplex DNA-based diagnostic test for the detection and differentiation of TB DNA in clinical samples. The test utilizes a thermostabilized platform and therefore could be stored and transported without the need for cold chain and requires minimum technical skills and is rapid compared to conventional culture methods.
Carotenoids are of great interest in many scientific disciplines because of their wide distribution, diverse functions and interesting properties. The project will use industrial reject brine to produce carotenoids.
The use of nano- and biotechnology for the development of a multi-use point-of-care device that can be used to diagnose several disease conditions and in so doing reduce the cost and turn-around time disease diagnostics. This could be accomplished through the quantification of disease specific protein biomarkers using aptamers and antibodies.
TBNano is designing a novel pulmonary drug delivery system for the antituberculosis drug, isoniazid. These microparticles will improve the therapeutic outcomes of this drug by protecting it against degradation inside the body, reducing its adverse effects, releasing the drug at the desired target areas and at right concentrations.
The successful participants in OneBio’s maiden program are (note: numeration correlate to images below):
- AMR Biotech: Kanyisa Ndatha, Giselle Diemer, Kirsty Botha
- A-Grow: Randall Fisher, Danielle Leukes, Katrien King
- TBNano: Joseph Mitanda Mutenga, Retsepile Maphasa Ephraim
- BiliGen: Mawethu Bilibana, Andile Masiko
- HaloPhyle: Anesu Conrad Moyo
- POC Diagnostics: Yamkela Mbandezi, Lauren Swartz
- BioID: Bryan Mundia, Jody Koopman
All participants are now looking forward to immersing themselves into an intensive week-long program. What’s on the cards for them is as follows:
Day 1, Monday:
- Introduction to the programme.
- Elevator pitches by the teams.
- Intro to exponential technologies.
- Exciting investment trends in biotech.
- Precision medicine and AI.
- Build a company that matters (impact focus).
Day 2, Tuesday:
- Introduction to modern life science technologies.
- Intro to pitching.
Day 3, Wednesday:
- Product-market fit.
- Packaging a solution.
- Business model canvas.
Day 4, Thursday:
- Regulations, quality management, Ethics.
- Entrepreneur talk (tba).
- Create pitch decks.
Day 5, Friday:
- Practice pitches.
- Pitching event.
- Announcement of winner.
- Drinks @ the Barn.
For course information and about OneBio, contact
- Nick Walker firstname.lastname@example.org
- Michael Fichardt email@example.com; or, visit
Four information about CPGR, contact
ONEBIO provides 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. Lead by Michael Fichardt and Nick Walker, the incubator builds on the unique experience of CiTi and CPGR in successfully providing incubation and biotech support services, respectively, in (South) Africa.
ONEBIO will support projects at the convergence of laboratory work and computational science, and likely to be solving African problems related to the health, food and environment sectors. Through its work, ONEBIO will build and nurture a connected continental innovation ecosystem and move Africa towards the center of global biotech innovation.
The 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 and implement Precision Medicine solutions in (South) Africa. The organization uses the open-source Baobab LIMS for sample and data tracking; and, it has recently implemented a DRAGEN platform to enhance the development and execution of high-speed/high-volume NGS data-sets. CPGR also hosts DIPLOMICS, a large infrastructure program initiated by the DST. In December 2017, CPGR entered into a partnership with the Sunflower Fund to enhance stem cell donor typing in Africa.
In support of Genomics capacity development in Africa, CPGR has launched an iScan system for high-end genotyping studies in early 2018. In April 2018, CPGR announced a new partnership to form a bespoke African biotech incubator, OneBio.