DST and TIA co-host Biocatalysis and Enzyme Manufacturing Stakeholder Workshop

A national Biocatalysis and Enzyme Manufacturing Stakeholder Workshop was held at the Irene Country Lodge on the 15th of March 2013. Co-hosted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), the workshop aimed to assess stakeholder support for the establishment of a National Biocatalysis Centre, as well as the need for the capability to manufacture enzymes in South Africa. The ACGT was instrumental in the coordination of the event and pre-event facilitation between the hosts.

The morning session was driven by Ms Blanche Ting (DST Senior Specialist – Biotechnology) presented the role of biocatalysis in the new National Bioeconomy Strategy. Prof Dean Brady (HOD, School of Chemistry- Wits) elaborated on the proposed National Biocatalysis Centre, in which the University of the Witwatersrand and the CSIR act as hubs for the national network. The proposed centre was positively received by both academic and industry participants.

The afternoon session focussed on the need for local enzyme manufacturing and was driven by TIA. Dr Bethuel Nthangeni (Senior Investment Specialist Industrial Biotechnology Sector- TIA) presented TIA’s vision and approach in the industrial biotechnology sector.

Participants at the workshop were inclusive of academia, science councils, government, and industry. The workshop was well received and the organising team were commended for mobilising members from all sectors, especially industry. The day included two discussion sessions, the outcomes of which will be utilised by the hosts to plot a way forward. There was a lot of interest and support generated by the workshop and participants were keen to be informed of outcomes and events emanating from these efforts. The hosts will build on this momentum and ensure information and updates are communicated accordingly. Overall, participants hailed the event a great success.