Cape Town | Health innovation in South Africa requires not only the ability to fund product development but the coordination of efforts across the innovation ecosystem. There is a continued need to develop new health technologies and take these to market. On 26 March, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), launched the new Technology Innovation Cluster Program (TICP) for Medical Devices and Diagnostics (MeDDIC). MeDDIC aims to strengthen the medical devices and diagnostics innovation ecosystem through a cluster-based approach.
Due to its traceable national footprint; proven leadership role in supporting health innovation; strong links to national government and extensive networks in academic, non-profit and funding sectors; the ability to leverage additional funding as well as sound knowledge of the country’s health needs, the SAMRC will be hosting the Program under its Global Health Innovation Accelerator (GHIA).
Speaking on the rationale for the establishment of MeDDIC, Dr Michelle Mulder, Acting Director of the SAMRC’s Grants, Innovation and Product Development (GIPD) division, which will play an administrative role for the Program, said the industry has enormous potential and capacity but is fragmented and not functioning optimally. She said that constraints to growth of the sector, as identified by industry stakeholders among others, range from regulatory challenges and a lack of policies supporting local industry competitiveness, with a need for greater industry cohesion along the value chain.
“The growth of the local medical devices industry would positively impact health outcomes in Africa, facilitate skills development and transfer, and contribute to sustainable economic growth”, said Dr Mulder. She adds that MeDDIC is not intended to replace the role of any National System of Innovation (NSI) players but rather it aims to bring together players along the value chain from research/academia, government departments and industry to drive and support innovation. “Our aim is to increase the overall cohesion and cooperation between sector players and our programmes and activities will be driven by the needs of medical device stakeholders,” emphasised Mulder.
Explaining the role of the SAMRC as a key driver of health innovation in South Africa, SAMRC President and CEO, Prof Glenda Gray, said the SAMRC is involved in the full value chain at various levels. “We fund various stages of product development and testing through grants, conduct in-house product development and facilitate partnerships for product development and implementation” said Gray. She also adds that hosting MeDDIC will enable the SAMRC to increase its footprint in the medical devices and diagnostics (MDD) arena and play a larger role in supporting product development and commercialisation.
“This will also help us utilize strategic partnerships to extend our innovation support role and increase links with industry, while delivering new solutions for the National Department of Health to address priority health issues,” concluded Gray.
Mr Patrick Krappie, TIA Acting CEO, said that the Technology Innovation Agency provided funding for the establishment of the MeDDIC based on its strong belief in this Cluster as a critical intervention to address systemic challenges that plague the medical devices and diagnostics sector.
“The MeDDIC will serve as a platform, with appropriate convening powers, to promote collaboration and leveraging of South Africa’s capabilities within the sector to produce locally developed solutions. With an investment portfolio of over R85m in this sector, the MeDDIC will also serve as an important vehicle to promote successful commercialisation of a wide range of technologies aimed at addressing health challenges in the country. Based on its strong capabilities, networks and track record, the SAMRC was therefore chosen as the fitting partner to host the Cluster and as TIA, we are delighted that this initiative has gotten off to a good start.”
The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) expressed their full support and committed to work with academia, industry and regulators to ensure the success of MeDDIC in enabling the development of new medical device diagnostics.
NOTE TO THE EDITOR:
About the Medical Device and Diagnostic Innovation Cluster (MeDDIC)
The Medical Device and Diagnostic Innovation Cluster (MeDDIC) is a national initiative created to exploit a high concentration of skills, expertise, infrastructure and companies across South Africa within the medical devices field. The initiative, supported by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), is aimed at stimulating and intensifying technology innovation within the sector as well as encouraging an integrated ecosystem in support of increasing the competitiveness of the industry. It is hosted by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) under the Global Health Innovation Accelerator (GHIA) program | Read More
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