Mr Motlatjo Moholwa, DDG for the Gauteng Department of Economic Development
Mr Loyiso Mkwana, DDG for Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
GGDA and TIHMC Board members
Mr McLean Sibanda: CEO of The Innovation Hub,
Mrs Mandisa Tshikwatamba, CEO’s of SEDA
Ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to be here today to officially launch two key biotechnology infrastructure projects, the BioPark@Gauteng Phase two and AgriPark. This infrastructure will add great value to the biotech community by providing space from which demand led innovation will be commercialised, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and contributing positively to the growth and development of our economy.
We live in an increasingly complex society, with a growing population and in-migration with regards to our province specifically, putting pressure on our limited resources, and an increased awareness of environmental issues highlighting the great need for us to promote and encourage innovation in order to come up with new solutions.
Given the levels of inequality that we are faced with, our challenge as government is to work at bringing about inclusive economic growth that integrates the majority of our people who are in the informal sector and largely on the periphery of economic activity and ownership into the mainstream economy as entrepreneurs, as manufacturers and as employees with increased localisation of production and greater inclusivity within economic value chains.
It is within this context that we as the Gauteng provincial government are actively promoting and encouraging innovation that will help bring about accelerated, sustainable and inclusive growth. We are of the firm conviction that it is only through becoming an innovative, dynamic, research-driven city region economy that we will be able to improve productivity and efficiency and become more globally competitive so we can open up new markets for our businesses and drive export-led growth.
All of the challenges that we find ourselves faced with, such as: water, health, education, and energy are simply opportunities for us to innovate so that we can come up with tangible, workable solutions that will create new economic opportunities for our people and have a material impact in improving people’s livelihoods and impacting our communities. It is for this reason that we are excited about the potential of this Biopark and Agripark to contribute meaningfully to our growth and developmental objectives as a city region.
We would like to firstly acknowledge the collaborative effort of The Innovation Hub (a provincial government entity), Egolibio Life Sciences Incubator, Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Department of Trade and Industry for joining forces in erecting BioPark@Gauteng Phase one, the success of which is evident in expansion towards BioPark Phase two.
In line with the province’s strategic objectives, The Innovation Hub strives to provide innovation and commercialisation services that enable entrepreneurs and researchers to create products with the capacity to break into local and international markets. One of the biggest obstacles entrepreneurs are faced with is the lack of investment in biotech and other innovation infrastructure which are key to overcoming barriers that inhibit market entry, sustainability and success for our entrepreneurs.
This catalytic infrastructure that we are launching today will offer an environment within which entrepreneurs in medical diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, cosmeceuticals, nutriceuticals and agro-processing are developed and their products are accredited in order to service local and global markets. Additionally, this infrastructure will allow us to offer skills development, job creation and manufacturing opportunities, all of which adds to the competitiveness of our city region.
The Success of BioPark@Gauteng Phase one has necessitated the expansion of infrastructure for additional office, manufacturing and laboratory space which has resulted in BioPark@Gauteng phase two. The facility is made up of 1500 m2 and will enable existing incubated entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and provide space for product development.
It is pleasing to note that the value in Phase two has already been realised as both incubated and commercial companies have taken up the entirety of Phase two. We have entrepreneurs such as Dermacell, Royal Mabundu, Iso Clear, African institute of Biomedical Sciences and Technology, and PortiaM who are already producing products to take up opportunities in the biotechnology sector. The demand for such space keeps on growing hence you see we are in the process of working towards a bigger infrastructure, BioPark Phase three on the cleared ground across Phase one and two.
Adjacent to the BioPark@Gauteng and in a quest to capture the innovation value chain in the bio-economy sector while anchoring the growth of food security initiatives, the AgriPark has been established. The AgriPark will help us with our agro-processing strategy by creating opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs within the sector to create products that are ready for export. The AgriPark is made up of a 5000 m2 high tech green house and 200 m2 pack house which will be operated by a developmental partner, GauFlora. The Innovation Hub, GDARD and GauFlora partnership at this AgriPark will help create employment opportunities through skills development in agro-processing activities and new technologies leveraged from the rich research and academic institutions around Gauteng.
In looking towards the future, this key infrastructure will enable entrepreneurs to use a number of regulatory instruments as a tool for competitive advantage rather than exclusion form market.
In conclusion, let me use this opportunity to thank all the partners who have provided financial and technical support for the establishment of these facilities and not forgetting IDC, through their spatial grant that was made available for funding to acquire equipment for cosmetic manufacturing. We urge all the partners to keep on supporting such initiatives that contribute meaningfully to our agenda to grow and transform our economy and materially improve the lives of our people.