Research Development & Innovation
Programme focus. This programme is aimed at supporting research and development efforts in biosciences with emphasis on human health and nutrition, using interventions from agriculture, environment and industrial technologies. The programme also focuses on accelerating technology transfer and commercialisation to create impact in the region and make a difference to people’s lives.
Strategic intent: Promote and undertake research that has marketable potential and address real regional needs. In particular it will be supported to enable efficient dissemination of research findings, technology transfer and commercialisation. This programme will also be linked with other NEPAD initiatives in the agricultural (CAADP, The Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme), health and environment areas.
Budget. This first programme, targets a $40 million research portfolio. It is important to ‘aim high’ because SANBio is building on previous gains in domains where there is comparative advantage to add significant value. SANBio (as part of ABI) has hosted numerous stakeholder consultations attended by farmers, traditional leaders, researchers, extension workers, NGO representatives, academics and private industries. The consultations were aimed at developing a demand-driven research agenda and creating stakeholder ownership. The consultations concluded biosciences R&D support should be guided by the following principles:
i. Programmes should be those that organisations participating on the ABI networks have a comparative advantage in adding value.
ii. Programmes should build on prior progress in terms of available human and physical capacity.
For instance, in all the consultations stakeholders were pleased to learn about the existence of stateof- the-art laboratories available in the participating organisations.
iii. Programmes should be demand-driven and should reach and attract participation of end users.
iv. Stakeholder participation and partnerships should be enhanced in order to ensure sustainability and ownership of the programmes.
Investment priorities. In all cases, SANBio will identify investment priorities on the basis of a demand-driven and responsive approach, and will continually host forums with key stakeholders to identify regional needs. From the previous needs analysis a number of regional investment priorities were identified, namely:
1 RD&I programmes
The main focus of SANBio is to improve livelihoods in Southern Africa with a particular focus on human health, but also considering factors impacting on this such as nutrition, food security agriculture and the environment. The main thematic areas with focal areas are detailed below:
• Bioprospecting for remedies
• Diagnostics, e.g. point-of-care or surveillance
• Food drug interactions
• Food allergies
• Genomics, e.g. host-pathogen interactions
– Alternative sources of proteins, micronutrients & carbohydrates, e.g. promotion of nutrientrich foods targeting women and children
– Food processing, e.g. improved handling and storage, technologies to ensure availability throughout the year
– Value addition of indigenous foods and neglected foods – nutritional value of indigenous & neglected foods e.g. vegetables integrated into food
– Indigenous coping strategies to natural and man-made disasters – climate change, HIV/AIDS
– Nutrition education.
iii. Health-related Agriculture issues
– Animal Production (indigenous breeds, genetics)
– Animal Health (therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics)
– Agricultural Products (biocontrol, biosafety and fertilisers)
– Aquaculture (fish farming technologies in communities and schools).
iii. Health and the Environment
– Climate Change
– Green Technologies
– Industrial Biologics (water and waste management, water quality)
– Genetic Resource Management.
A Scientific Advisory Panel will be constituted per thematic area on an ad hoc basis to peer review project proposals and recommend proposals for funding to the SANBio Steering Committee. The SAP will consist of 4 to 5 members appointed on an ad hoc basis based on their expertise and they will be nominated by the SANBio secretariat.
2 Accelerate technology transfer and commercialisation
The second priority is new for SANBio. This new initiative signifies SANBio’s desire to have reasonably rapid development results and impact from its efforts and the recognition that technology transfer will not happen without a concerted effort. The CSIR has strong technology transfer and commercialisation capabilities; indeed it is embarking (2013) on an expanded programme in these areas.
Key to this initiative is for SANBio to clearly define and assess the unmet needs of the region and through its RD&I programme investments, develop solutions tailor made to address these needs. Successful technology transfer and in particular adoption of technologies by end-users is accelerated if outputs clearly address unmet needs. End-user led innovation will be a key driver for SANBio’s technology development and commercialisation efforts. This needs analysis will be refined on an ongoing basis and potential RD&I interventions tested with end-users to ensure applicability as part of a clearly defined stage gate process, built into all RD&I programmes.