Every quarter, Innovus prepares a report for their stakeholders, letting them know exactly how capable the hands that run it are. This short piece will deliver some of the highlights of this year’s final report, and of 2017 to you, our reader. The meteoric rate of growth of our favourite Technology Transfer Office, Innovus has several important factors, the most important of which is the quality of faculty and students at the institution that Innovus represents. Quality people means better research; better research means a higher rate of disclosures; and the rate of disclosures is indicative of the power of the commercialisation model. In recent years, Innovus, has managed more new patent applications than any other local entity and what is remarkable is that our conversion rate of patents-licences is on par with, or even higher than universities in the United States. In fact, the amount of annual licence income generated since 2009 has grown by almost 800%, to the more than R6m received to date in 2017. Read More
There’s a new sheriff in town, and her name is Dr Marie Talnack. Fresh of the boat from California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona), she has arrived on our shores to fill the shoes of a new Innovus position – the Technology Transfer Director. We have very high expectations: not only has she worked in small businesses, corporates, universities and federal research laboratories, she also ran her own consulting business for almost 2 decades, which gives her a rather dual-fence perspective on commercialisation. With a wide variety of projects under her belt – from firefighting to pharmaceuticals, UAVs, satellites, and hybrid aircraft, to name a few – there is little she isn’t intimately aware of. This depth of experience is crucial for any Director of Technology Transfer. According to our CEO, Anita, “This is such a difficult role to fill. As per the recent DST data, there are only about 100 technology transfer professionals in South Africa, and half of those have less than 4 years’ experience. Finding and connecting with Marie is a blessing! We can’t wait to work with her.” Read More
As the team with the mandate to manage all the University’s internal initiatives, it’s been a busy few months for Commercial Services (CS). They are, after all, SU’s 5th income stream. As well as implementing access control to, and a small (but very necessary) fee for entry to the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens, a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) has been completed with Friends of the Garden, a volunteer group, who will now be assisting with fundraising. Discussions are underway to develop a viable solution for the usage of the HB Thom Theatre and the Conservatorium, with the intent of commercialising some of their facilities. Read More
If you did a quick search on some of the most terrible non-infectious diseases – like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or type 2 diabetes – you will find that, for the most part, the causes are listed as ‘experts are still unsure of why this occurs.’
That was until Prof Resia Pretorius of the Department of Physiological Sciences at Stellenbosch University turned her attention to them. It turns out bacterial wall inflammagens may be that cause, or at least a major part of it. Prof Resia, alongside research partners and experts from Manchester to Madrid, has been using her collective genius to determine exactly why our bodies and minds turn against us, so we can make incurable diseases preventable, if not curable. And what they have discovered may change the lives of millions. Read More
New funding for SNC
On 1 November 2017, the team at the Stellenbosch Nanofiber Company (SNC) celebrated SNC’s sixth birthday! If you haven’t already, please make sure you send them a card or a magnum bottle of wine. It’s been quite the journey from their ‘garage days’, where founder Eugene Smit used a feta cheese tub to demonstrate his proof of concept to Innovus, to a company that’s quickly spinning its own web of possibilities in the medical space.
At a quick glance, what SNC does is allow for the production of nanofibers at a rate of between 10 and 100 times faster than competitors. They can do this because they completely overhauled the production process, using the patented SNC BEST™ ball-electrospinning technology which pushes out over a kilogram of nanofiber per hour, rather than the measly few grams we’re used to. This means that using nanofibers in commercially scalable activities – high performance filters, biomaterials, batteries and composites – now makes a lot more sense. Read More
Process management is key to cost-saving and efficiency in all businesses. In surgical practice, process management also saves more lives and prevents unnecessary post-operative complications.
Despite the large number of patients requiring life-altering and life-saving procedures (think knee replacements to heart valve repair), much of the organisation of medical operations is still done manually, and often on paper. Surgeons are required to schedule their own theatre times, with the help of administrative staff. The surgeons are expected to give priority to patients who require surgery the most urgently and at the same time not to ignore patients with less urgent conditions. The degree of illness and number of patients waiting for surgery changes constantly as new patients are assessed, and surgical specialists and trainees spend unnecessarily long hours managing these waiting lists. In fact, some surgeons spend up to 20% of their time dealing with unnecessary administrative tasks. Read More
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