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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Director Technology Transfer and Innovation and Founder of Global Health Biotech: Professor Keolebogile Motaung shared exciting news on the three recipients who were successful in obtaining seed funding to the tune of R1 750 000.00 for commercialisation from the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).

The seed fund is administered by the Technology Transfer and Innovation Office which will continue assisting in applying for funding for the development and commercialisation of the technology generated at the institution.

The intention of the DUT TIA seed fund is to also develop preliminary research outputs where initial proof of concept has been demonstrated, in order that they may be commercialised or better positioned to receive next-round innovation funding.

Prof Motaung is an award-winning Biomedical Scientist who has received a number of accolades due to her continuous efforts in bridging the gap between science and entrepreneurship. Her goal at TTI is to positively impact the changing landscape of technology, transfer, innovation and commercialisation through excellent leadership and planning. She plans to transfer scientific research results into tangible economic and social benefits and lastly carry those wonderful products/prototype to the marketplace.

Professor Francis Oluwole Shode is the founder of Sholab Nutraceuticals (PTY) Ltd and the project funded (R500 000.00) is for the improvement and development of antiviral nutraceutical agents (actiovir and coglovir) against COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. Prof Shode is from DUT’s Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology, and is an organic chemist with vast experience in teaching and research with special interests in medicinal and nutraceutical chemistry. He is passionate about chemical entrepreneurship and creating natural remedies from underutilised renewable bioresources for better life. He is a co-founder of Redemptive 5 Social Entrepreneurship Academy.

Professor Eric Oscar Amonsou, a Food Science Professor in the Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, is the founder of INOFID (PTY) LTD. He is receiving funding (R650 000.00) for his project which is for the process improvement and optimisation of pre-biotics enriched, non-dairy drink for scale-up and commercialisation.

Prof Santhosh Kumar Kuttan Pillai is from the Department of Biotechnology and Food Science. The project funded (R600 000.00) is for: edible bioactive coating for fruit preservation.

Highlighting further on his project, Prof Pillai said that the post-harvest fruit spoilage by microbes such as bacteria and fungi has been identified as a major challenge in the South African agricultural sector, accounting for an annual loss of approximately 20-30%, valued at millions of Rands.

“Furthermore, most fruit preservation strategies employ harsh chemicals, which can affect human health and the environment. In this regard, the DUT team, led by myself and Prof Kugen Permaul of the Enzyme Technology Research Group in the Department of Biotechnology and Food Science, aim to provide a sustainable solution to microbial fruit spoilage by developing an edible coating using natural and environmentally friendly materials,” he said. He indicated that the product offers significant value because the main raw materials, collagen and chitosan, will be derived from fish and crustacean waste and that the successful development of the edible bioactive fruit coating will offer a commercialisation opportunity with 100% local ownership.

The DVC Research, Innovation and Engagement, Prof Moyo, thanked Management for supporting the first two proposals for setting up two spin off companies. It is a big step aligned to ENVISION2030 to ensure we provide opportunities for both our staff and students to become entrepreneurial. She congratulated both recipients of the grant and thanked the TTI Office for supporting the researchers and innovators in the grant writing process and mentorship. She also thanked TIA for supporting the DUT initiatives.

Pictured: DUT’s TTI Director and Founder of Global Health Biotech: Prof Keolebogile Motaung.

Pictured: Prof Santhosh Kumar Kuttan Pillai.

Pictured: Prof Eric Oscar Amonsou.

Pictured: Prof Francis Oluwole Shode.

Waheeda Peters

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