KRISP News - 2018-02-07Tweet
KRISP at UKZN partner with Stanford University on a global innovation program.
As part of this program, an open meeting to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Durban is held monthly. The Durban SPARK Innovation Breakfast meeting aims to ensure that Durban is in a position to seize the opportunities and manage the challenges of rapid advances in technology, such as artificial intelligent, robotics and biotechnology.
South Africa needs to urgently develop capabilities in the areas of science, technology and innovation. This was highlighted in the recent State of the Nation address (SONA) by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The development of innovation, small businesses and entrepreneurship should be the cornerstones of development in order to alleviate poverty and improve health on the African continent.
The SPARK at Stanford program has an unusual very high success rate of transfer of technology to commercial products, with a staggering 62% of transfer, where the norm is less than 10%. One of the main reasons for this success is described by the Stanford SPARK director Dr. Daria Mochly-Rosen is because the involvement of the private sector and academics in an open meeting without hierarchy towards transferring biomedical technology to society and the provision of seed funding and mentorship to move scientific ideas to products
'We are delighted to have started this innovation programme with some of the top Universities in the world. We are also very enthusiastic about working with the private sector. Durban entrepreneurship and business orientation culture provides a perfect combination to transfer scientific developments to commercial products', says Prof. Tulio de Oliveira, who is a world-leading bioinformatician and director of KRISP at UKZN. 'Artificial intelligence, robotics and biotechnology innovations have the potential to create the next generation of medical and diagnostic devices that can be remotely used and accessed in developing countries, which is the fastest expanding economical market in the world. The enormous biodiversity in our plant, human and, even disease burden, should be harnessed to develop new drugs and therapies that can be used in Africa and elsewhere'.
The first meeting (February 2018) was attended by IT experts, chemists, medical doctors, investors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. The meeting is open and we really encourage the participation of the private sector, government and civil society. Meetings are open and run from 7:30-8:30am on the first Wednesday of the month, with breakfast provided before and after the meeting.