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A Research Associate at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Professor Francis Oluwole Shode was recently announced as a finalist for the Gauteng Accelerator Programme (GAP) Innovation Competition. He is looking forward to attending the grand finale, which is taking place at the Innovation Hub in Tshwane on Thursday, 29 February 2024.

Late last year, the Innovation Hub, in collaboration with Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Emory Goizueta Business School and Tshwane Automative Special Economic Zone (TASEZ) invited all entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers who were working on groundbreaking technologies to enter the competition, themed: Ignite Your Innovation. The applicants came from the Bioscience, Green, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Medical sectors as well as those driving the township economy.

Prof Shode is an organic chemist, with over 40 years of professional experience in teaching and research, at tertiary institutions in Africa and Western Europe. He graduated from the University of Sheffield, in the United Kingdom in 1981 and received post-doctoral training at University of Nottingham in the UK and Delft University of Technology in Netherlands.

Prof Shode started his academic career at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria where he completed his first degree in chemistry and pharmacology (double-honors major degree) before proceeding to UK for further studies.
He joined DUT in 2017 as a Research Associate in the Department of Biotechnology and Food Science, under the Faculty of Applied Sciences. Prof Shode has created groundbreaking inventions in medicinal chemistry/phytochemistry which have resulted in international patents and commercial products used in the management of chronic diseases such as sickle cell anemia, hypertension, and diabetes among others.

In addition to his academic accomplishments, Prof Shode founded Sholab Nutraceuticals (Pty) Ltd, a spin-off company of Durban University of Technology (DUT) in 2020 after five years of intensive research activities towards the development of functional foods against malnutrition and natural remedies for communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Speaking about entering the GAP Innovation Competition, Prof Shode said: “I applied for the Gauteng Accelerator Programme Competition in August 2023 after reading the notice posted on the DUT Pinboard. Surprisingly, I received a letter from Mr Ofentse Nobela of The Innovation Hub that I have been shortlisted for my technology for the 2023 Gauteng Accelerator Programme (GAP) Innovation Competition. The training took place in Pretoria from 25 to 29 September 2023 at the University of Pretoria, Conference Centre. Thereafter, I pitched my invention at three different occasions before I submitted a Business Plan based on my pitching to the organisers of the competition. Finally, I defended the business plan in the presence of an adjudication committee with other seven presenters.”

He has expressed his gratitude to the DUT Technology, Transfer and Innovation (TTI) unit under the leadership of Professor Keolebogile Motaung for having supported his entrepreneurial journey, where he attended entrepreneurship training workshops in Cairo, Egpyt and in Johannesburg.

Prof Shode is proud of himself for coming from the DUT research laboratory to being a finalist in the GAP Innovation Competition. He is hoping to be amongst the winners who will share the seed funding and cash prizes. The winners of GAP Innovation 2023 stand a chance to receive incubation services with technical and business mentors, intellectual property lawyers and access to The Innovation Hub’s network of industry and government partners.

Pictured: Prof Francis Oluwole Shode.

Photo credit: Pavlinka Kotacheva @ujlibscience.

Simangele Zuma

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