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Nqobile Masimula | 6 September 2023

Durban — The BIO Africa Convention ended on a high note, on Wednesday, at the Durban International Convention Centre with an announcement of the winners of the Start-Up Stadium.

This feature of the convention sees start-up businesses and SMMEs being able to participate in the Start-up Stadium, a dedicated space specifically designed to showcase the potential of emerging biotech start-ups.

On Monday, the Minister of Higher Education and Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande officially opened the 2023 BIO Africa Convention.

Nzimande said the BIO Africa Convention is an important platform for enhancing biotechnology applications on the African continent.

The biotechnology innovations that were featured pertains to the health, energy, agriculture and entrepreneurial sectors.

The pitch-up session was held on Tuesday.

The winner for the pre-revenue start-up is Dr Habtamu Abafoge who is the CEO of Simbona Africa Healthcare.

Simbona won $10 000 (R192 166), and is a health-care company that designs and manufactures medical devices. Currently, Simbona is working on three different products: a baby warmer, a phototherapy machine, and an ultraviolet disinfection machine.

The winner on the category of post-revenue start-up is Dr Genevieve Thompson who is the founder of Gene Vantage.

She won $50 000.

Gene Vantage is a specialist in the field of nucleic acid extractions, and is the only manufacturer of such products in Africa.

The convention attracted industry experts, researchers and Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) in the biotechnology sector.

The event, was held under the theme “Re-imagining Biotechnology Innovation for Africa‘s Development and Security”.

Dr Janet Byaruhanga of Nepad, said the journey for the start -ups has just begun.

“As we embark on this journey, we have witnessed the power of collaborations. It is your agility and innovations that will not only shape the industries but will shine the light of Africa,” she said.

Biotech stakeholders from across the world shared ideas in parallel sessions, plenaries and an exhibition featuring about 100 exhibitors was there.

The Department of Science and Innovation has been championing biotechnology, and the bio-economy in South Africa since 2001.

Dr Nhlanhla Msomi who is the chairman of AfricaBio said the convention offered a unique opportunity to gain exposure, network with industry veterans and potential investors, and receive valuable feedback from experts in the field.

“Thirty two countries were represented and 800 delegates showed up. To all the start-ups, you are the engines of our future growth. Next year we are convening on 23 August,” said Dr Msomi.

He said the event also aims to foster collaboration and partnerships that can drive innovation and contribute to Africa’s sustainable development.

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‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.

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