The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) has partnered with the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) to issue a funding call for locally developed test kits and reagents for COVID-19.
TIA serves as a key institutional intervention that bridges the innovation chasm between research & development and commercialization. The entity achieves this through facilitating the translation of South Africa’s knowledge resource into sustainable socio-economic opportunities that improve the quality of lives for all South Africans.
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) mandate is to improve the nation’s health and quality of life by funding relevant and responsive health research, development, innovation and research translation. SAMRC is the largest local funder of health research in Southern Africa and supports high quality research, innovation and capacity development through a variety of grant programs and strategic partnerships. SAMRC and DSI have further convened a COVID-19 Research and Innovation Advisory Committee to advise on research and innovation priorities for COVID-19, as well as several task teams addressing different aspects of the response, including vaccines, diagnostics, treatment and prevention. TIA participates in the advisory committee and task teams through its Health Unit and Cluster programme. The key objective for the TIA Health Unit is 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 prevention, diagnosis, and/or treatment of priority disease areas in South Africa
A key gap identified by the task teams and Advisory Committees is the rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 in patients to substantially reduce the turnaround time for diagnosing active infections, allowing faster response in terms of active case finding, quarantine and contact tracing. A second important gap is the increasing importance of access to locally produced qRT-PCR kits and reagents to reduce reliance on international supplies. Therefore, this partnership dovetails into TIA’s mandate and enables the stimulation of innovation in South Africa to not only address the pandemic, but enable the capacitation of South African industry to supply local needs and play a part in reviving the local economy that is already suffering the effects of the pandemic.
TIA’s Acting General Manager for Bioeconomy, Mr. Mohohlo Molatudi said “the collaboration with SAMRC and DSI is part of a TIA-wide response, and also an example of the important role government and its agencies play in ensuring a concerted, informed national response to COVID-19 epidemic by coordinating their resources and avoiding duplication.”
The details of the call are available on the SAMRC website:
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