Technology Areas


The priority diseases that have been identified as having the greatest impact on public health and quality of life in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, include HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, respiratory diseases, cancer and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The goal of the Health Biotechnology Unit is to stimulate and support the development, registration, manufacture and commercialisation of products and services which address the healthcare needs of the country. The priority investment areas include drug development (including phytomedicine), medical devices and diagnostics, and vaccines and biologicals.

Business Unit Purpose

The Health Business Unit aims to enhance South Africa’s global competitiveness in the health arena and to deliver socio-economic value through technological innovation in healthcare products and services, addressing the diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment of priority disease areas within South Africa.

Our Objectives

Invest in projects that focus on the development of affordable and adaptable novel health products that address the high burden of disease in Southern Africa.

Focus on the development of capacity within drug development, including building critical mass in areas of HIV, malaria and TB, as well as phytomedicines.

Strengthen the current portfolio of medical devices and diagnostic products, develop point of care diagnostics with a focus on TB, and exploit South Africa’s expertise in cardiac and orthopaedic devices.

Develop local vaccine manufacturing capability for pandemic response and address Africa’s disease burden.

Support local API manufacturing efforts.

Technology Focus Areas

  • Medical Devices and Diagnostics
  • Pharmaceuticals and Biopharmaceuticals
  • IKS and Complimentary Medicines

Contact our Business Unit

Coceka Pumile - Coordinator

Tel: 031 271 4504

Exciting Innovations

Altis Biologics (Pty) Ltd

Altis Biologics (Pty) Ltd is a regenerative medicine development company focused on developing and bringing to market, new biomaterials and regenerative biological products, with a particular emphasis on orthopaedic and dental tissue regeneration.  Altis has developed the world’s first injectable porcine derived bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) medical device – Altis Osteogenic Bone Matrix (“Altis OBM”). 

The innovative Altis OBM product is used for the treatment and healing of fractures or bone voids (resulting from injury or bone degradation) and is an alternative to traditional bone graft products, which usually involve harvesting of bone material from the patient’s own hip (autograft) or use of donated bone from bone tissue banks (allograft).  Altis OBM is injected into the site requiring bone regeneration and may offer a safe, effective and less costly alternative to bone graft products currently in use. TIA has funded various stages of the product development and continues to fund certain activities for the commercialisation of the product.

The company continues its efforts to conduct studies, secure regulatory and reimbursement approvals, and to boost local manufacturing capabilities in order to commercialise this revolutionary product and ensure it is readily available to patients in need.

Strait Access Technologies (Pty) Ltd

Strait Access Technologies (Pty) Ltd – “SAT”, is one of our rising stars, whose team is developing a number of cardiac medical devices, including a novel device for replacing diseased heart valves in low resource settings. They recently held a symposium titled “The New Frontier of Heart Valve Surgery: A Majority in Need”. The symposium attracted internationally recognised heart surgeons and medical device entrepreneurs, and demonstrates the increasing attraction of SAT’s heart valve deployment device that is funded by TIA. The inventor, Professor Peter Zilla, is a renowned heart surgeon and is Director of the Chris Barnard Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UCT. SAT already employs a number of skilled specialists, from biomedical engineers to polymer chemists, and also provides training and experience for medical specialists in cardiovascular surgery.

Compared to HIV, which affects 34 million people worldwide, Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) affects between 70 million and 78 million people worldwide. RHD starts with a simple strep throat infection and, if left untreated, may cause an autoimmune response. This results in the body starting to attack the leaflets of the heart valves and the only treatment option is to replace the aortic valve.

In first-world countries, where open-heart surgery is readily available, it is not a problem, but for poorer nations, nothing is available. With only thirteen cardiac operating centres available in the whole of Africa (outside of South Africa) – there is currently no solution to this epidemic.

Strait Access Technologies (Pty) Ltd is a spin-off company from the University of Cape Town, focusing on developing heart valve therapies specifically aimed at the emerging and developing markets. Their aim is to develop simple-to-use devices that a general surgeon can place, negating the need for highly specialised skills, a device that does not require the chest to be opened to eliminate the need for a highly sophisticated cardiac theatre, as well as cheaper products, making delivery devices re-sterilisable which, reduces the costs per patient significantly.