Second BIO Africa Convention to take place in Durban

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), in partnership with its entity the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and AfricaBio, will host the 2019 installment of the BIO Africa Convention at Durban's International Convention Centre (ICC) from 26 to 28 August 2019.

Taking place under the theme "Africa: Transcending consumerism, leading innovation", the three-day event will build on the success of last year's inaugural BIO Africa Convention.

With South Africa's rich history and heritage in the bio space, the country is ideally placed to host the convention. As one of the world's most biodiverse countries, South Africa has the potential to become a bioeconomy haven.

"South Africa is one of the global mega-diverse hotspots, with huge bioprospecting potential lying within the animal, plant, fungal and micro-organism phyla," Dr Phil Mjwara, Director-General of the DSI, said ahead of the convention.

"It has world-class infrastructure, exciting innovation, research and development capabilities and an established manufacturing base, as well as sophisticated financial, legal and telecommunications sectors, and a number of global business process outsourcing operations."

Mjwara said the BIO Africa Convention seeks to develop the bioinnovation opportunities that arise from Africa's shared resources, abilities and market opportunities for regional, continental, and global good.

"Bringing together policy makers, businesses, regulators, researchers, investors, entrepreneurs and civil society, the aim is to form strategic partnerships and business alliances that will recognise the mutual interests and develop the African opportunities for bio-based value creation," the Director-General said.

The BIO Africa Convention also comes barely two weeks after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Act.

The DSI views indigenous knowledge-based technology innovations � including the development of African medicines, cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals and indigenous beverages � as a massive strategic opportunity. As part of its efforts to mainstream indigenous knowledge, the Department has developed models for knowledge-holder and community-centred agroprocessing businesses which have yielded a variety of branded products.

The three-day BIO Africa Convention will include plenaries, an exhibition, a showcase of local SMMEs, and breakaway sessions covering topics including the following: Smart and digital agriculture; innovation policy instruments for African governments; African natural medicine research; new breeding techniques and their regulatory implications; innovations in the sugar industry; sustainable biomaterials; and cannabis product innovations.

Source: Department: Science and Technology