RCIPS showcases key UCT innovations at Accelerate Cape Town's AGM

21 Aug 2013 - 18:45

RCIPS showcased UCT innovations at the AGM of Accelerate Cape Town (20 August 2013) at the Cape Town Aquarium. Other attendees included business leaders and innovation thought-leaders from the Cape Town region and numerous other stakeholders from public and private sectors.

The keynote speaker was the Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, who's address overviewed DST's work, updates on the National Development Plan (NDP), the Department's Centres of Excellence Program and the South African Research Chairs Initiative, as well as a summary of industry specific interventions that the department has in place. Minister Hanekom encouraged private business leaders to be bold and become actively involved in the quest to increase national expenditure on R&D to 1.5% of GDP by 2022. A summary of the Minister's address is available on the DST's website.

RCIPS showcased numerous UCT innovations, some of which have great potential for commercialisation in the Western Cape. Dr Anwar Jardine of UCT's Department of Chemistry exhibited a sample of Modified Chitosan, a water-soluble chemical compound which he developed from natural water-insoluble chitin found in the hard outer shells of crayfish (typically a waste product from the food industry). The current known applications for this modified chitosan include water purification, the separation of saturated fatty acids from unsaturated fatty acids and the preparation of novel metal-polymer immobilised catalysts for use in the manufacturing of Fine Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals. This invention has the potential to add value to the Western Cape's crayfish industry. RCIPS also showcased a sample of an antioxidant product developed by Dr Clive Garcin (CeBER, Chemical Engineering). Dr Garcin developed a process to recover hydroxytyrosol from the toxic waste of the olive brining process. Hydroxytyrosol is one of the most powerful antioxidants and can be used in the Pharmaceuticals, Cosmetics and Food & Beverages industries. This invention has the potential reduce the environmental footprint of the Western Cape's olive industry and add value.

Also exhibited was a novel surgical tool which was co-invented by a UCT surgeon and an independent engineer. Called the Locator, this device is used in large kidney stone surgery, where it improves the efficiency of the minimally invasive procedure. The Locator assists a surgeon in achieving a precise percutaneous needle puncture by stabilising the needle, making it easier and quicker. The reduction in procedure time has the additional benefit that less X-ray radiation exposure is required, which is safer for the patient. The long radiolucent arm also reduces X-ray exposure to the surgeon's hands. Read more ...