Mr McLean Sibanda, The Innovation Hub CEO, Professor Dennis Liotta Emory Executive Director of Emory Institute for Drug Discovery , GGDA Chairperson Mr Mogopodi Mokoena, Mr Ezekiel Madigoe Chick Energy Company, Minister Derek Hannekom, Department of Science and Technology, Honoroble Nkosiphendule Kolisile, MEC for Gauteng Economic Development Department , Mr Vulani Mabunda, Chick Energy Company, Mr Siphiwe Ngwenya, Acting GGDA CEO, Mr Zeth Malele, TIHMC Chairman of the Board
Friday, 07 December 2012: Chick Energy was announced as the winner of the inaugural Gauteng Accelerator Programme (GAP) in Biosciences, at a Gala Dinner held at The Innovation Hub in Tshwane last night. GAP: Biosciences is collaboration between The Innovation Hub and Emory University USA supported by the Department of Science and Technology. It is modeled on successful programmes that Emory University has implemented in the past.
The company won a R400 000 cash prize as seed funding, free incubation for a year as well as business support at The Innovation Hub’s Maxum incubation programme.
The Minister of Science and Technology, the Honourable Derek Hanekom and Gauteng’s MEC for Economic Development, Mr Nkosiphendule Kolisile, were on hand to name and congratulate the winners.
The Innovation Hub, Africa’s first accredited science and technology park, is a subsidiary of Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, which is an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development.
The GAP: Biosciences Programme is a year-long programme that focuses on building entrepreneurial skills in the biosciences innovation sector in Gauteng. Launched in February this year to ensure that biosciences researchers and postgraduates have the vital business skills to accelerate the establishment of viable start-up companies in Gauteng, the programme has offered intense business plan support for four months to seven entrepreneurial finalist teams.
“We are focused on building Gauteng’s knowledge economy. As such, R&D and commercialisation are very important,” said Kolisile. He described the GAP: Biosciences Programme as a deliberate intervention which aims to make a difference to the quality of life of people living in Gauteng. “Innovation is crucial to the creation of decent jobs, which will help to address the many socio-economic challenges faced by our people,” he said.
He also acknowledged the collaboration with the Departments of Science & Technology and Agriculture & Rural Development, whose contributions to this project “are helping to achieve our vision of a bioeconomy in Gauteng.”
The GAP: Biosciences programme forms the foundation of the Biosciences Park initiative at The Innovation Hub.
Acting CEO of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, Siphiwe Ngwenya, believes that the initiative fits neatly into the agency’s mandate to assist Gauteng’s sustainable economic growth.
The year-long programme kicked off earlier this year with a workshop in Business Basics. Seven semi-finalist teams participated in an intensive five month programme, including a week-long Executive Education course presented by Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and worked with local and international mentors to develop business plans. “Although there is only one grand prize winner, each of these teams has gained valuable insight through the process, which can only boost Gauteng’s economic prospects,” said Ngwenya.
The Innovation Hub CEO, McLean Sibanda, said: “This programme has allowed The Innovation Hub to identify a high potential entrepreneurial team to assist in identifying market opportunities and scale into a sustainable enterprise. The number and standard of entries has been exceptional and we congratulate the finalists on their outstanding efforts.”
According to Sibanda, the bioeconomy is playing an increasingly important role in the global economy. “This is driven largely by the challenges, opportunities and massive gains in life sciences, particularly healthcare, energy, and agriculture. With the bio- economy accounting for over 10% of the country’s GDP, it is important that we fast-track the development of entrepreneurs who will create more solutions to meet our growing demands.
“We are very proud of our relationship with Emory University, which has an impeccable track record of commercialisation of healthcare innovations. GAP: Biosciences is important in bridging the gap that exists between ideas and the market and in ensuring that we continue to develop bio-entrepreneurs to anchor our economy,” he says.
The top seven entries of the GAP: Biosciences competition pitched their business plans to a panel of local and international judges over two days prior to the awards ceremony. The finalists were as follows:
1. Aptamer-based point-of-care TB Diagnostics by Makabetsa Khati, Lia Rotherham, Laura Millroy, Charlotte Maserumule, Nqobile Ngubane, Thulile Khanyile, Fanie Marais
2. Biohydrogen Reactor System (An on-site wastewater treatment system which produces hydrogen as the major end product) by Keneilwe Sebola, Vincent Gray, Craig Sheridan, Karl Rumbold, Kevin Harding
3. Biopesticides for the control of economically important insect pests by Gustav Bouwer
4. Chick Energy Technology (Treatment of poultry litter into energy) by Ezekiel Madigoe, Vulani Mabunda, Daniel Mogano
5. Commercialisation of Malaria RDT Kits (Gold nano-particles based technology) by Bethuel Sehlapelo, Agatha Masemola, Butana Mboniswa
6. Treatment of soil to alter permeability properties for agricultural and water purification purposes by Frans de Bruyn
7. VeinAid (Assisted Injection Device) by Dean Sher, Brett Tersepolsky, James Grant, Rishi Rahaman, Selwyn Kahlberg