Innovation is a powerful enabler of change in our country.
Where innovation is nurtured and encouraged, progress happens. At The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), we strongly believe that science and innovation are potent tools to bring about socio-economic development and provide opportunities to many businesses whose economic contribution grows our country’s GDP.
Already, South Africa is ranked highly as an innovative nation. The Decadal Plan, a 10-year blueprint that is guiding innovation development to drive industry changes and growth across numerous industries, is already making an impact in the health sector. Innovation investment and partnerships are shaping how we can become self-reliant in supporting our community healthcare needs. Be part of growing the health industry while meeting the needs of society.
Boosting local vaccine manufacturing capacity.
Africa is a resourceful and innovative continent. Through meaningful partnerships, it could become less reliant on foreign support and evolve into a significant producer of the medicines required to meet the health needs of our people. That is the goal that company’s such as Biovac are working towards, together with the Department of Science and Innovation.
Africa produces less than 1% of its annual vaccine requirement, leaving the continent vulnerable when disease outbreaks occur. We saw this during the Covid-19 pandemic when the continent struggled to source critical vaccines to save lives. The pandemic laid bare the urgent need for the continent to accelerate investments in building vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities to ensure the achievement of the bold target of manufacturing 60% of the vaccines we consume in Africa.
Local vaccine manufacturing capacity strengthens national health security and reduces the dependency on foreign suppliers for timely access to critical vaccines, which underscores the importance of a company like Biovac.
Biovac is a bio-pharmaceutical company based in Cape Town that was founded in 2003 in partnership with the South African government to establish local vaccine manufacturing capability for the provision of vaccines for national health management and security.
The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) has invested in Biovac and supports them in building vaccine development and manufacturing capacity. Through partnership and collaboration, Biovac locally develop and manufacture much needed vaccines.
By investing in local facilities and training people to make vaccines, Biovac has secured high profile technology transfers from international pharmaceutical companies for the manufacturing of paediatric vaccines. These partnerships have helped Biovac become a leader in South Africa's vaccine industry. They've achieved this by building local facilities, getting high-tech know-how, and training people in special sterile manufacturing skills. Biovac is a great choice for international drug companies wanting to make vaccines in South Africa.
Nuclear medicine provides world-class healthcare.
Of all the advancements that are happening in the field of medicine, Nuclear medicine is certainly amongst the most exciting. Nuclear medicine is a specialised field of imaging and therapy which uses small amounts of radioactivity in the form of radiopharmaceuticals to study various organ systems in the body, diagnose and treat disease. Nuclear medicine has several benefits including early detection of diseases, accurate diagnosis, the ability to determine treatment for patients, and greater personalisation of treatment, leading to more effective medicine. On top of this, it is has minimal side effects, allowing for the improvement of patient outcomes by providing valuable insights into the body's functioning at a molecular level.
A not-for-profit company, NuMeRI is a one-stop-shop medical imaging facility dedicated to drug development and clinical research. This core research network is embedded within the healthcare domain, which creates a mutually beneficial environment for medical research and general practice – with public health being the common goal.
The establishment of NuMeRI facilities and capabilities is an ongoing enterprise. Currently, the research infrastructure is being rolled out in a phased approach, as the construction of the main NuMeRI site is underway, adjacent to the Nuclear Medicine Department at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane. The completed infrastructure will be a distributed network comprising the main NuMeRI site, the NuMeRI Node for Infection Imaging at Tygerberg Hospital (managed by Stellenbosch University), a NuMeRI radiobiology facility at iThemba LABS in Cape Town. The NuMeRI Main Centre at Steve Biko Academic Hospital (NuMaCS) will be equipped with state-of-the-art clinical imaging equipment, a cyclotron and a Good Management Practice facility for the production of radioisotope.
NuMeRI is already open for business. Ultimately, however, it will be instrumental in capacitating the public healthcare sector with critical and scarce skilled medical professionals through the provision of key infrastructure that is unique to their field(s). Researchers and health practitioners will be able to access these services and help improve the survival rate and quality of life.
Connecting researcher to world-class Omics facilities.
The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) has invested in the exciting and rapidly growing field, Omics. Omics is a field of study in biology that involves the in-depth analysis of various biological molecules present in an organism, covering different types of biological molecules like genes, RNA, proteins, and metabolites. Ultimately, Omics technologies offer a deeper understanding of the complexities of biological systems, paving the way for advancements in healthcare, disease management, and the development of more targeted and personalised treatments.
Advancements in this science are proving invaluable in medical advancement. DIPLOMICS is one of 13 Research Infrastructures established by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) through its South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR). The Centre for Proteomic & Genomic Research, a Trade and Investment Agency (TIA) Technology Platform, hosts DIPLOMICS at a new facility in Cape Town.
The objectives of these partnerships are to enable and strengthen Omics capacity, improve the quality of research and increase access to Omics technology and expertise. DIPLOMICS enables this by supporting research infrastructure resources, launching high-impact, high- visibility projects, implementing intensive human capital development programmes, and improving awareness and visibility of the Omics community.
DIPLOMICS also gathers information and data that enables stakeholders such as policymakers, practitioners and end-users to identify key areas for intervention in the development of this capability locally to benefit students, researchers and laboratories.
Committed to a healthier, stronger society.
The DSI is committed to developing and advancing innovation for the good of South Africa and the continent. With every new advancement comes new opportunities. And we aim to maximise those opportunities so that our people can prosper.