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. In order to respond to these challenges, KRISP and UKZN have partnered with some of the world's leading innovative organizations to learn from the successful innovation in the Silicon Valley.
The Durban Spark Innovation meeting is a monthly meeting that is associated with the SPARK Global Program at Stanford University, which is one of the most successful innovation programmes in Silicon Valley, USA. The SPARK 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%.
'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'.
One of the main reasons for this success is described by the Stanford SAPRK 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'.
The first meeting 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.
The Durban Spark Innovation Breakfast meeting takes place in the K-RITH Tower Building. K-RITH is a prestigious state of the art building, which cost around ZAR 1 billion to build, has won architectural awards and is dedicated to scientific research. It is located at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, UKZN, (701 Umbilo Road, Durban).
News date: 2018-02-07