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Innovation & IP in Biotech and Life Sciences

17 May 2017 - 12:15

RC&I collaborated with UCT’s Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research (CeBER) and IP law firm, Spoor & Fisher, to hold an infosession on IP and innovation with a focus on biotechnology and life sciences.  This was another UCT initiative to commemorate World Intellectual Property Day 2017, themed “Innovation – Improving Lives”, following our recent exhibition of UCT’s innovative and impactful technologies (see http://www.rci.uct.ac.za/news/world-ip-day-2017-exhibition-uct%E2%80%99s-innovative-technologies and http://www.rci.uct.ac.za/news/innovation-improving-lives).

The session took place on Friday 12 May in the Chemical Engineering Seminar Room and included talks by Tyron Grant, a patent attorney and partner from Spoor & Fisher, and Philip Hoekstra, UCT IP Manager.

Tyron provided an introduction to IP (patents in particular), made a case for the importance of IP and its impact on innovation, and discussed a career in IP and the processes involved in becoming a patent attorney or technology transfer practitioner.  Due to Tyron’s particular experience in biotechnology and life sciences, his talk included a number of case studies and examples from those fields.   

Philip then gave an overview of RC&I, discussed the various competencies and services provided by RC&I, and provided a number of case studies from the biotech, food, and life sciences fields.  CeBER’s algal project is one project that Philip discussed as a prime example of where RC&I collaborated extensively with a UCT research group.  This project received UCT pre-seed funding, Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) seed funding, was the subject of a Techno-Economic Feasibility Study done by Dr David Walwyn, and was included in a strategic review funded by the National IP Management Office to review and align CeBER’s research portfolio towards impactful and commercialisable products. 

The seed fund project included the construction of a greenhouse where about 2000 litres of algal raceway reactors will be installed.  This facility will be used to scale-up the production of exotic natural colourants extracted from algae, and will also be used by Prof Ed Rybicki of Molecular & Cell Biology for some of his research.

The infosession was a great success with more than 40 members of staff and post-grad students attending from across UCT.

We wish to thank the Department of Science and Technology’s National IP Management Office (NIPMO) for their continued support and sponsorship of the World IP Day events.