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Team UCT Represented at a Workshop on Translation of Health Innovations.

6 May 2019 - 12:15
L to R: Emmanuel Margolin (Biopharming Research Unit), Saberi Marais (RCI), Edmund Wessels and Catherine Bradshaw (Division of Biomedical Engineering), and Precious Hlongwe and Alex Akinimade (Medical Biotechnology and Immunotherapy Unit, IDM)

A team of young University of Cape Town researchers attended a workshop on Translational Research, Health Innovation and Commercialization in Durban. The event targeted early-stage health and life science researchers and postgraduates from the participating institutions with the objective of introducing participants to the concepts and tools required to plan the translation of their research findings towards commercialisation, healthcare delivery and social impact.

The workshop was organised by the University College of London (UCL)’s Translational Research Office in collaboration with the African Health Research Institute and University of KwaZulu Natal and was supported by the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme and the DST’s National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO).

The workshop provided an opportunity to reinforce UCT’s relationship with UCL’s Translational Research Office and share best practices in the support of complex health innovation research. UCL’s team presented their translational research roadmap models which are customised to the research discipline (e.g. drug discovery, biomedical research) and inform researchers of the roles of the various “players” in the planning and execution of the roadmap; including the collaborative funding applications necessary to realise the project goals.

Saberi Marais, Technology Commercialisation Manager at RC&I, noted that this level of coordination and the availability of support from key funders at the appropriate time in the project’s lifecycle played a vital role in cementing UCL as a leading research organisation in the United Kingdom.  He presented on UCT’s experiences in healthcare innovation.

UCL shared their experience in engaging with industry partners; and sensitised the audience to factors that contributed to the success and failure of these engagements. It was no surprise that communication and clear roles and responsibilities were major factors and the value of co-created translational roadmaps was reinforced. 

The workshop provided the opportunity for local innovators and researchers to share their experiences in the form of case studies. Ms Khilona Radhia, CEO of Antrum Biotech, described her journey through the development, validation and planned commercialisation of their extra-pulmonary TB diagnostic test. Her presentation was followed by mobile health solution developers and entrepreneurs including staff from NeoTree, a neonatal information management app being trialled in primary healthcare facilities in Zimbabwe; and mAfrica who presented on their HIV self-testing workflow and development app development.

Dr Tulio de Oliveira, Director of KZN Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, highlighted the infrastructure and research support that they provide researchers and entrepreneurs who are addressing health priorities in southern Africa.  

Dr Jane Kinghorn, Director of UCL’s Translational Research Office, said that the participants had spoken highly of the event and were grateful for UCT’s support, presentation and experience sharing.