UCT spin out recognised at the NSTF Awards, in partnership with South32

16 Jul 2015 - 11:30
Ms Naledi Pandor, the Minister of Science and Technology, opening the ceremony

Three academics and one spin out company from the University of Cape Town were honoured with awards at the 17th Annual National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards, in partnership with South32 for their research and innovation achievements in health Sciences.


Winners were announced at the gala dinner, which took place in Gauteng on Thursday, 9 July 2015. The awards were presented by Ms Naledi Pandor, the Minister of Science and Technology.


One of UCT’s spin out companies, Antrum Biotech, was acknowledged for “research leading to innovation by a team or individual in an SMME (sponsored by THRIP, an initiative of dti)” for their development of an accurate rapid test for extra pulmonary TB called IRISA-TB.


Antrum Biotech is based on the invention of Professor Keertan Dheda’s, who is known for his contributions to understanding the pathogenesis, diagnosis, management and control of drug-resistant TB. Professor Dheda was also the recipient of an award from the NTSF-BHP Billiton Awards in 2014 for his support of the fields of science, engineering and technology through research and its ouputs over the last five to ten years.


Professor Danie Visser, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at UCT, congratulated the Antrum team: “They have, in a very short space of time, translated the excellent research done by Professor Keertan Dheda and his team at UCT into a tangible product that will have a huge impact on patient care. I also wish to express my gratitude to the Industrial Development Corporation for the financial Investment in this venture.”


With CEO Khilona Radia heading Antrum Biotech, the company is committed to bringing about change in biotech research, TB, skills development and the community, with a focus on keeping the company at the forefront of growth and innovation. The company provides jobs as a small-to-medium enterprise, builds sustainable research capacity and develops a pipeline of products that works towards increasing the country’s capacity to develop its biotechnology sector.


“We are delighted to receive this recognition,” says Khilona Radia. “At Antrum our aim is to develop products that will have a social impact and provide an African solution to an African problem. We hope this new test will help patients obtain the treatment they need for this terrible disease.”


The award was also featured in a Mail & Guardian supplement, wherein Radia was interviewed on the outlook of the company and the potential towards biotechnology development in South Africa.