7 budding biotech innovators selected for OneBio’s first mini incubation programme

OneBio, Africa’s first Biotech business incubator based in Cape Town, has selected its first cohort of life science entrepreneurs for the BioStart mini incubation programme, designed in conjunction with the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

Life science students at UWC were asked to submit their biotech business ideas, and seven teams were selected to participate in the week-long programme, which will walk them through the fundamentals of taking a biotech concept to market and expose them to insights into the frontiers of the global biotech industry. The week will end with the participating teams pitching their companies/ ideas to a panel of judges from government and industry. From human identification and biofertilizers to DNA-based diagnostic tests and disease diagnostic device concepts – at the end of October, the seven teams will be competing for R50 000 in lab services from the CPGR, as well as a 3-month residency with CPGR/OneBio to further develop its idea and business model.

“We can’t wait to work with the amazing talent we see at UWC. These students are the future of our country’s life science ecosystem and if we can play a small part in directing them towards growing the economy through bio-entrepreneurship, that would be very satisfying.” Michael Fichardt, Co-founder and CEO of OneBio.

Announced earlier this year, OneBio is a joint venture of the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), the Centre for Proteomic Research (CPGR) and founders Michael Fichardt and Dr. Nick Walker. ONEBIO will provide life science startups with funding, business support, lab facilities and office space. Startups will also gain access to networks, mentorship, international markets and large corporate partners, both in Africa and internationally. Prior to the official launch in 2019, OneBio will be running mini programme activations with South African universities, to develop the conversation and ecosystem for science entrepreneurship from our campuses.

Visit www.onebio.africa to find out more about OneBio.

Meet UWC’s most promising life science entrepreneurial teams:

  1. POC-Diagnostics

The use of nano- and biotechnology for the development of a multi-use point-of-care device that can be used to diagnose several disease conditions and in so doing reduce the cost and turn-around time disease diagnostics. This could be accomplished through the quantification of disease specific protein biomarkers using aptamers and antibodies.

Co-founders: Yamkela Mbandezi, Lauren Swarts

  1. A-Grow

A-Grow offers customised biofertilizers containing a unique mix of microorganisms, plant growth promoting substances and soil-and-plant immunising bacteriophages. The combination of a biofertilizer with phage therapy makes their product and concept unique. Phage therapy is a more economical, safe and environmentally-friendly “cutting-edge technology” alternative to conventional pesticide treatments.

Co-founders: Randall Fisher, Danielle Leukes, Katrien King

  1. BioID

BioID proposes to formulate a highly specific method of human identification, incorporating an individual’s gDNA or microbiome, as a means of improving the security in existing identification technologies. This method is aimed at eliminating the element of fraud in personal security and existing biometric identifiers.

Co-founders: Bryan Mundia, Jody Koopman

  1. BiliGen Bioscience

BiliGen bioscience is developing a multiplex DNA-based diagnostic test for the detection and differentiation of TB DNA in clinical samples. The test utilizes a thermostabilized platform and therefore could be stored and transported without the need for cold chain and requires minimum technical skills and is rapid compared to conventional culture methods.

Co-founders: Andile Masiko, Mawethu Bilibana

  1. HaloPhyle

Carotenoids are of great interest in many scientific disciplines because of their wide distribution, diverse functions and interesting properties. The project will use industrial reject brine to produce carotenoids.

Founder: Anesu Conrad Moyo

  1. TBNano

Joseph is designing a novel pulmonary drug delivery system for the antituberculosis drug, isoniazid. These microparticles will improve the therapeutic outcomes of this drug by protecting it against degradation inside the body, reducing its adverse effects, releasing the drug at the desired target areas and at right concentrations.

Co-founders: Joseph Mitanda Mutenga, Retsepile Maphasa Ephraim

  1. AMR Biotech

AMR Biotech is a diagnostic service focusing on the detection, surveillance, and treatment of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) pathogens in South Africa. Their aim is to provide traditional diagnostic support, low cost phenomic testing, and a live database mapping AMR.

Co-founders: Kanyisa Ndatha, Giselle Diemer, Kirsty Botha

For further information about the BioStart Mini Incubation programme contact:

Michael Fichardt – michael@onebio.africa
Dr Nick Walker  – nick@onebio.africa