Life science and biotech entrepreneurs, let alone start-ups, are currently few and far between in South Africa. This is partly due to the embryonic status of the South African bio-economy, but also because this new and emerging area doesn’t have the track record which investors and entrepreneurs seek to base their efforts and investments.
Realising the opportunity, the CPGR (Centre for Proteomic & Genomic Research) developed an accelerator program to stimulate and support life science and biomedical start-ups in South Africa. The program is unique in that it focuses on cutting-edge ‘omics’ technological capabilities; provides a professional environment compliant with key quality management standards (ISO 9001:2008, ISO 17025); and has expertise in running a life science business. It blends these features into an offering that facilitates the development of products, the testing of business models, and the starting of new ventures in a lean and cost-effective fashion.
The accelerator’s value-add to the biotech start-up community is to let entrepreneurs concentrate on core capabilities or project goals while being embedded in a nurturing environment that has the necessary scientific support capabilities. This will decrease project and overall investment risk; reduce time-to-market; facilitate milestone execution; and increase investment readiness of start-ups. In addition, the program provides access to a wide range of life science stakeholders and complementary resources in (South) Africa.
The program seeks to attract ventures that are situated in the health, food and veterinary markets; make use of ‘omics’ technologies; operate in a regulated research & development and business environment; and, benefit from exposure to South African resources and market opportunities while having a dedicated global growth vision. It aims at attracting local and international entrepreneurs to spread project risk and to create a vibrant start-up community.
Our first start-up is a venture focused on the development and provision of innovative food quality and other tests with relevance to the Halaal sector.
Accelerator projects may include but are not limited to:
- Developing a molecular test for the detection of pathogens in marine species;
- Developing a computational tool for the analysis and interpretation of genomic or proteomic data;
- Developing a biomarker-based test for the diagnosis, prognosis or treatment of complex diseases (companion diagnostics) such as cancer;
- Developing a mobile app for the interpretation and utilisation of ‘omic’ data by medical professionals and/or patients.
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