SA’s budding biotech industry

first_img5 January 2004By international standards, South Africa’s budding biotechnology industry is small. But a national audit has found that the industry has “enormous potential” for growth and investment.The audit, funded by the department of science and technology and the Egoli BIO Life Sciences Incubator, indicates that South Africa has a “pipeline of potential new products and processes in the research and development stage”.It identifies 106 companies participating in biotechnology activities, 47 of which are classified as “core” biotechnology companies solely involved in biotech enterprises.“The fact that there are already 47 biotech companies that have established themselves with very little support gives SA the basis on which to build a much bigger industry”, Bioventures chief executive Heather Sherwin told Business Day newspaper. Bioventures is South Africa’s only biotechnology venture capital fund.The audit found that total spending on biotechnology research and development exceeded R290-million during 2002, while revenues for 48% of products and services in the local biotechnology industry came to R368-million during the same period.A global audit by Ernst & Young found that there were about 600 publicly traded biotechnology companies worldwide at the end of 2002, with a research and development expenditure of US$22-billion. The firms reported revenues of $41.3-billion.Sherwin says it is likely to be some time before local biotech firms start listing on the AltX exchange – SA’s new parallel market for small- and medium-sized companies – let alone on the JSE Securities Exchange main board. According to Sherwin, biotech companies need to have an operating profit greater than R8-million before they can list on AltX. She says only 20% of SA biotech firms have revenue in excess of R10-million.One successful biotech venture is Cape Town-based Synexa Life Sciences. The company specialises in the production of complex “molecular tools that help elucidate the cellular mechanisms that cause disease, enabling the development of new therapeutics.”Synexa chief executive Justin Devine says the creation of a successful biotech company is driven by passion, planned convergence of a world-class team, and products/services that hold a sustainable competitive advantage. “In the right combination, these factors will attract funding at the right time”, he says.Paul Abrahams, chief executive of eGoli BIO, says early stage financing opportunities for local biotech companies are available but are extremely limited because biotechnology is “one of the most difficult industries to understand and therefore perhaps the riskiest”.South Africa also does not currently have a network of “angel investors” – like in the United States – who have deep pockets and are prepared for high-risk and potentially high returns.The challenge, according to the audit, is to take advantage of the opportunities for the development of niche markets in which South African stakeholders can compete on a global scale.This can be facilitated by creating an “enabling environment” that allows stakeholders to maximise the benefit derived from the potential of biotechnology, while minimising the possible risks to the environment and human health.Abrahams advises biotech start-ups to:Understand the perceptions of seed capitalists.Be prepared for scepticism – SA investors are conservative.Explain the biotechnology venture fully to potential investors.Have outstanding management capabilities within the company – not only as scientists.Secure a large and growing market.Have products/services that can be bought to market to generate some income.Have technological backup to give the project a sustainable competitive advantage.Protect intellectual property.BiopadSouth Africa’s bid to commercialise biotechnology recently received a shot in the arm when the government allocated R250-million over two years towards the Biotechnology Partnership for Africa’s Development (Biopad).In addition, the department of science and technology allocated R400-million for the establishment of three regional Biopad biotechnology innovation centres, in accordance with its national biotechnology strategy. The first centre was launched in Johannesburg in March this year. The others will be in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.Biopad was initiated earlier this year as a collective response, by a community of biotechnologists and other professionals, to the challenges posed by the varied needs of the region and the continent.According to the Biopad website, the aim of the initiative is to put South Africa among the world leaders in the application of biotechnology, in so doing “stimulating economic development, contributing to job creation, and building world-class skills and technology platforms to sustain and continue development”.Through a close relationship created between the eGoli BIO incubator, small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) are nurtured and prepared for commercialisation. External professionals with expertise in finances, marketing, management and business are used to assist the SMMEs.The centres will serve as nuclei for the development of biotechnology platforms, from which a range of businesses offering new products and services can be developed. The centres will promote research and development, entrepreneurial services, technology, intellectual property management and business incubation.SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Liverpool loses at last-place Swansea 1-0 in big EPL shock

first_imgLiverpool’s Sadio Mane reacts on the pitch, during the English Premier League soccer match between Swansea City and Liverpool, at the Liberty Stadium, in Swansea, Wales, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)SWANSEA, Wales — A week after inflicting Manchester City’s first loss in the English Premier League, Liverpool lost at last-place Swansea 1-0 on Monday and ended its 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions.Alfie Mawson’s 40th-minute strike secured one of the most surprising results of the season on a night Liverpool’s usually lethal attack toiled at Liberty Stadium.ADVERTISEMENT “If you put a Formula One (car) in London at 4 o’clock in the traffic, the Formula One (car) will not run very fast like it should,” Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal said. “It was exactly what we should do to play Liverpool — put them to play the way they don’t like.”It was a far cry from Liverpool’s devastating display in its 4-3 win over runaway leader City eight days earlier when Juergen Klopp’s team didn’t seem to miss the departed Philippe Coutinho, who joined Barcelona for 160 million euros ($192 million) this month.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingLiverpool could have done with Coutinho’s creativity against a Swansea side that defended stoutly, stifling Mohamed Salah for the most part, and took its only real chance.From a Swansea corner from the right, Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk could head the ball only back into the danger area where it hit the shins of Federico Fernandez. His central defensive partner, Mawson, shot on the turn from eight meters and it flew into the corner past goalkeeper Loris Karius. ‘We cannot afford to fail’ as SEA Games host – Duterte Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next PH military to look into China’s possible security threat to power grid LATEST STORIES Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim LeBron’s numbers sliding while Cavaliers slip in standings Liverpool nearly grabbed an equalizer in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time, when Roberto Firmino headed against the post and substitute Adam Lallana’s shot on the rebound was deflected over by the lunging Mawson.“Last weekend feels like it was half a year ago,” Klopp said. “It’s not what I’m interested in. I’m frustrated and angry.”Swansea stayed in last place but was tied on 20 points with West Bromwich Albion, three off safety.Fourth-place Liverpool was only two points ahead of Tottenham in the race to secure one of four qualification spots for next season’s Champions League.Liverpool hadn’t lost in the league since Oct. 22, a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham.ADVERTISEMENTcenter_img Jordan delivers on promise: 2 Cobra choppers now in PH Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ MOST READ ‘A complete lie:’ Drilon refutes ‘blabbermouth’ Salo’s claims Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games View comments BeautyMNL open its first mall pop-up packed with freebies, discounts, and other exclusives SEA Games: PH still winless in netball after loss to Thaislast_img read more

Leander Paes, Martina Hingis knocked out of French Open

first_imgIndian tennis veteran Leander Paes and his Swiss partner Martina Hingis have crashed out of the French Open after losing in the mixed doubles pre-quarterfinals here.Eighth seeded Indo-Swiss pair went down fighting to Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik and Romanian Horia Tecau 7-6, 3-6, 6-10 on Saturday at the Stade Rolland Garros.The first set was a tight contest which went into a tie-breaker that was eventually won by Paes and Hingis.However, the Slovenian-Romanian pair came back strongly to win the second set 6-3 and push the match in to the decider.But Paes-Hingis failed to make an impact in the super tie-break, easily losing 6-10.Srebotnik-Tecau next face Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez and Robert Lindstedt in the quarter-finals of the tournament.Paes-Hingis earlier paired to win the Australian Open in February.last_img read more