Home Systems biology The Start-up Index: a fundraising tool for start-ups and biotech SMEs

The Start-up Index: a fundraising tool for start-ups and biotech SMEs


The process of building a successful innovative business from scratch is an extremely difficult undertaking for entrepreneurs – each step is filled with challenges, like finding a solution that actually fills a gap in the market. The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) has partnered with the BIO Africa Start-up Index to provide support for start-up companies.

The index serves as a tool for the creation of new businesses by providing several sources of information on entrepreneurs. It establishes an ecosystem for start-ups that fosters strategic partnerships, attracts investment, promotes growth and stimulates the development of fledgling companies.

Start-ups within the BIO Africa ecosystem are listed in the Start-Up Index. In this way, the registered company has access to reference consulting services, exposure to international partners, financing and funding opportunities and connection to the BIO Africa Ecosystem network. It is essentially a virtual accelerator or incubator, with the following enterprise support services:

  • Market registration. Innovators Market Corner is a virtual e-commerce platform providing access to markets.
  • BIO Africa Academy, a training center offering various training and customized courses for entrepreneurs from some of the best business schools, such as Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Additionally, it provides technical training opportunities through partners such as the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB). There is also a BIO Africa Convention webinar series.
  • The Knowledge Resource Center is essentially an innovation exchange, providing up-to-date knowledge resources for scientists and innovators. It is organized by prominent local scientists and based at Emory University.
  • The Communication Hub, which underpins the ecosystem, provides advanced marketing, brand development and communication support to start-ups.

These services are provided at a subsidized cost to start-ups as part of the TIA’s mandate to build a vibrant local bioeconomy.

If your start-up is in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology sector, you can contact AfricaBio at [email protected] to learn more.

CapeBio technologies boost diagnostic capacity in Africa

Biotechnology has contributed to the development of more than 1,200 diagnostic tests used in clinical practice today. With just a blood sample or oral swab, many of these tests can diagnose conditions faster and with greater accuracy than ever before. Many of these diagnostic tools are now portable, allowing doctors to perform tests, interpret results, and determine treatment on the spot. These tools have had a profound effect on access to healthcare in Africa, where healthcare infrastructure is often underdeveloped.

CapeBio, a South African biotechnology company, has received approval to manufacture polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test kits from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority ( SAHPRA). The test kits, which were co-developed by CapeBio and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), will help reduce South Africa’s dependence on imports by making the kits more accessible to the country and to the rest of the continent.

In a radio interview, CapeBio CEO Daniel Ndima said the kits will help South Africa become less dependent on imports: “Yes, the product adds value to our country because it basically guarantees that there is an adequate supply of these test kits. I would also like to clarify that while we normally use the term rapid test to refer to home antibody tests, this one is a polymerase chain reaction test that allows people to receive results faster.

By developing local value chains, Ndima hopes to help make South Africa and the continent better able to deal with global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic. He said global trade restrictions and the limits they have placed on Africa’s ability to respond appropriately to the pandemic indicate the need to strengthen the local research, development and manufacturing industry. biochemicals. Beyond building Africa’s capacity to manage crises like pandemics, Ndima wants to improve the overall quality of life for South Africans through scientific advances, as well as create jobs for life science graduates. Unemployed.

CapeBio continues to pioneer genome editing and genome engineering in Africa by providing novel proteins and enzymes derived from native microbial diversity, namely The Cape Floral Kingdom. Officially launched as a private company in 2018 through a successful research and development project funded by CSIR and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), CapeBio is still shaping the African continent for the future using innovative biodiscovery to unleash the power of ancient genomic data.

Sawubona Mycelium promotes responsible and sustainable organic production

Sawubona Mycelium is a biotechnology company that recognizes the power of microorganisms to create sustainable and responsible manufacturing. The company was founded by Neo and Busi Moloi in 2018, with the aim of combining their passions for fermentation and medicinal mushrooms. Using fermentation, the two biotechnologists intend to produce mushroom-derived bioactives that are useful in a variety of applications.

For the first time in the history of Africa, Sawubona Mycelium produced 800 liters of liquid cultured mushrooms called Enokitake for bio-based cosmetics. CSIR has helped Sawubona Mycelium scale up the production of high-value products from Enokitake mycelium using a liquid culture method, bringing the global mega-trend of mushroom ingredients to South Africa with the help of CSIR Biomanufacturing Industrial Development Center (BIDC).

“As fermentation scientists, we have been interested in using fungi to develop high-value ingredients for cosmetics, functional foods, and pharmaceutical applications. When we finally found an approach to achieve this thanks to the support received from the Technology Innovation Agency, we felt that as part of our process of scaling up for commercialization, it would be important to test the efficacy of our product at scale,” said Neo Moloi of Sawubona Mycelium. As part of the production process, the company also produced enough biomass to convert it into dried mushroom powder, useful in food products such as thickeners and supplements in the form of immuno-boosters.

“We are currently working on a purification method that will be suitable for the cosmeceutical industry. The incorporation of active ingredients derived from fungi into skin care products to produce clean, more effective and safe to use beauty products has become a global phenomenon. As Sawubona Mycelium, we aim to continue harnessing natural flora and botanical extracts, which also includes the use of native southern African fungi to produce fermented bio-based cosmetic products for the South African market,” said said Busi Moloi.

ICGEB and BIO Africa host the first international edition of “ICGEB Science & the City South Africa”

Concerns about an underinformed or misinformed public on scientific issues are not new, as disconnects between public opinion and scientific consensus on topics such as vaccine safety, evolution and climate change exist. since a long time. In recent times, we are also facing the challenge of an overabundance of misinformation, where false or inaccurate information is presented as fact.

On March 29, 2022, the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), in partnership with the BIO Africa Convention, hosted its first international edition of ICGEB Science & the City at the Center for the Book in Cape Town.

Moderated by Dr Nhlanhla Msomi, ICGEB South African Governor, AfricaBio Chairman and biotechnology expert, the panel of experts included Dr Lara Donaldson, ICGEB Cape Town Group Leader, Systems Biology plants ; Professor Mosa Moshabela, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal; Dr David Phaho, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships at Cape Peninsula University of Technology; and Dr. Rasigan Maharajh, Chief Director of the Economic Research and Innovation Institute at Tshwane University of Technology.

The launch event theme was Myth Busters: Discrediting Misinformation in Science, and covered the following key topics:

  • The importance of discrediting misinformation in science
  • The role of science and scientists in the fight against disinformation
  • The impact of misinformation on the public health system
  • Common Misinformation/Myths and How to Eliminate Them
  • Tools to distinguish between facts and fake news – breaking the cycle of misinformation – which sources are trustworthy.

Science has a specific role and a variety of functions to benefit our society, such as creating new knowledge, improving education and increasing the quality of our lives. To face the challenges of sustainable development, governments and citizens must understand the language of science and acquire a scientific culture.

Amid the rise of fake news, fake science news is an underexplored type of news that poses threats. Although fake science news can spread like wildfire on social media, we all have a responsibility to think before we share content, because fake news is harmful; it creates anxiety and undermines public confidence in national authorities.

According to Donaldson and Phaho, when confronted with what we suspect is fake news, we can:

  • Judgment and verification of facts;
  • Debunk some of the myths caused by fake news;
  • Speak up when you see misinformation;
  • Present the facts in simple and
  • Use tools to spot techniques used to create fake news.

Moshabela added that “public health systems are complex” and there are many ways to get the public to understand scientific language with a focus on providing scientists and scientific institutions with opportunities and resources. to have meaningful conversations with the public, such as:

  • Increase awareness and understanding of public engagement and its benefits
  • Demonstrate excellence in public engagement
  • Train scientists to communicate with non-scientific audiences, and
  • Capacity building to conduct public participation in scientific activities.

One of the most important takeaways from the event is the need to connect scientific research to the public. Ongoing conversations between science and society need to be convened and facilitated to leverage relevant information and expertise from multiple perspectives.

If your start-up is in the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology sector, you can contact AfricaBio at [email protected] to learn more.