Applying and integrating bioscience innovation for socio-economic development


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Presented by Jane Morris at the First Bio-Innovate Regional Scientific Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 25-27 February 2013

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  • Brach (2010) suggested that two thirds of variation in economic development can be explained by a country’s technological readiness
  • : the public sector has limited ability to market its research outputs, while the private sector will not engage in activities where the market is insufficient to ensure profitability. Ferroni and Castle (2011) cite specific examples of PPPs involving the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, such as the development of semi-dwarf Eragrostistef, the staple food of Ethiopia; rust resistant wheat; micronutrient enhanced crops through the CGIAR HarvestPlus Challenge Program including vitamin A enhanced sweet potato (Uganda and Mozambique), maize (Zambia) and cassava (Nigeria); and iron rich pearl millet (India) and bean (Rwanda).The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), headquartered in Kenya, specifically has a mandate to facilitate and promote PPPs. One of their flagship projects is the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project, a partnership between Monsanto, BASF, the CGIAR International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and the national agricultural research systems in participating countries. Funding is provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard G Buffet Foundation. This complex project demonstrates the potential of multi-partner PPPs to deliver value above and beyond what could be possible through any one organization
  • the cost of doing business in Africa is 20–40% above that for other developing regionsAfrican tertiary graduates are weak in problem solving, business understanding, computer use and communication skillsStrong leadership by Africa’s politicians is required to remove generic roadblocks such as customs barriers to regional trade; to establish systems to ensure that farmers have access to modern agricultural inputs; to promote African-based integrated value chains; and above all to promote a change of mind-set regarding the importance of science, technology and innovation.
  • Applying and integrating bioscience innovation for socio-economic development

    1. 1. E Jane Morris African Centre for Gene Technologies and Department of Biochemistry University of Pretoria APPLYING AND INTEGRATINGFirst Bio-Innovate Regional BIOSCIENCEScientific Conference INNOVATION FORUnited Nations Conference SOCIO-ECONOMICCentre (UNCC-ECA) DEVELOPMENTAddis Ababa, Ethiopia25-27 February 2013
    2. 2. What is bioscience innovation? Transferand application of knowledge, R&D and information (OECD) The innovative application of biotechnology to create products or services Can involve adoption, refinement and modification of existing technologies – not necessarily new cutting edge technologies
    3. 3. Bioscience innovation towardsa bioeconomy Africa and the world need to move towards a sustainable bioeconomy So – what do we mean by a bioeconomy? A world where biotechnology contributes to a significant share of economic output (OECD) Sustainable production and conversion of biomass, for a range of food, health, fibre and industrial products and energy, where renewable biomass encompasses any biological material to be used as raw material (EU)
    4. 4. Why does Africa need a bio-economy?  The current trajectory of economic development is ecologically unsustainable  Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the regions where natural services are most threatened by human impacts  To be sustainable, the development of a bio- economy should focus not only on new uses of biomass, but also on increased biomass production and on its more efficient use, including use of waste products. Africa has huge potential here!
    5. 5. What about a Bioeconomystrategy? EU Bio-economy Strategy focuses on the potential for conversion of agricultural biomass into food, feed, bio- based products and bioenergy US Bio-economy Blueprint focuses on new drugs and diagnostics for improved human health, higher- yielding food crops, biofuels and bio-based chemical intermediates China sees the bio-economy as a means to tackle certain economic and societal challenges rather than an end goal. AFRICA???
    7. 7. African case study – Striga tolerant cereals 21m ha infested across Africa, major crop losses BASF developed herbicide tolerant maize that would kill Striga Technology deployed through AATF Limited uptake Uptake hampered by limited seed availability, lack of training for farmers Need for brochures in local languages – provided by NGOs
    8. 8. African case study – banana tissue culture Disease results in low yields and shortened life of plants Tissue culture bananas provide disease free planting material Concerted efforts to enhance uptake and improve distribution of plantlets Technology uptake low (eg 5% in Kenya) Uptake hampered by high costs of production, lack of access to credit by farmers, the need for agricultural inputs, and knowledge of the required agronomic practices Need for disease resistant plants
    9. 9. African case study – microbial fermentation in South Africa Technology to produce the amino acid lysine developed in South Africa 1996 - $70M investment in fermentation plant to produce 11 000 tonnes per annum Technologically successful though a steep learning curve 1998 – management buyout Plant suboptimal in size, tried to diversify into other less commoditized amino acids 2009 – acquired by a Canadian company, moved to yeast production
    10. 10. African case study – valueaddition through agroprocessing Various initiatives to add value to agricultural products across Africa Eg Cassava in Nigeria, cashew nuts in Kenya, liquorice in South Africa, edible oils in East Africa Governments and private sector have all recognized the potential for growth. Market-led, private sector involvement is key for success. Needs to be a strong linkage between producers and processors Technological, market, institutional and infrastructural issues must all be addressed
    11. 11. Challenges and hurdles (1) Access to finance, markets and business advisory services  Support for business plan development  Seed funding and venture capital  Lack of purchasing power in local markets  Transport costs and difficulty of access to markets in the developed world Time and cost of product development  Lack of critical mass (expertise, facilities, money)  Leads to lack of competitiveness
    12. 12. Challenges and hurdles (2) Intellectual property  Weak protection of IPRs in much of Africa  Difficulty of accessing IP to ensure Freedom to Operate  High cost of patenting  Liability and redress concerns  Protection of indigenous knowledge Policy and regulatory hurdles  Policies and legislation do not support innovation  Lack of regulations for biological products
    13. 13. Challenges and hurdles (3) Funding for R&D  Lack of government support for research, development and innovation  Reliance on donor organizations  Lack of modern equipment, and/or funds to run and maintain equipment  Lack of pilot plant facilities Technical skills and know-how  Lack of technological readiness hampers innovation
    14. 14. SOME SOLUTIONS Public-private partnerships  Eg WEMA, Syngenta Foundation projects Bioincubators  Need to be developed throughout the continent Regional African collaborations  CORAF/WECARD, ASARECA etc Sustained donor-funded programmes  Eg Bio-Innovate!! Technology licensing  Eg P57 in South Africa
    15. 15. FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES Improved crops, Animal vaccines and diagnostics Medicinal products derived from the continent’s biodiversity Biofuels, Biological fertilizers Biological control agents Plant and animal diagnostics Biological waste treatment Nutraceuticals Cosmeceuticals
    16. 16. THE WAY FORWARD Innovators must focus on areas where Africa has a real competitive advantage Increase investment in market research and technology benchmarking Increase global competitiveness through investment climate reforms Increase investment in skills development Lobby for strong political leadership to remove generic roadblocks Strive for an integrated approach to development of the bioinnovation value chain Build on synergies through collaboration
    17. 17. SO – LET’S GETGOING AND DO IT!!!