BIO Africa is set to launch its 2020 BIO Africa Convention digitally this year

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The BIO Africa Convention will be taking place digitally on August 24-26 2020. The convention continues with its aim of creating a platform for showcasing African innovations and technologies, creating a platform for funders to interact with start-up companies requiring funding, learn of recent policies and regulations, and presenting an educational programme through high-profile speakers.

This annual event is a collaborative effort by AfricaBio in partnership with key stakeholders, such as the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB). Collectively, they have a shared vision aimed at fostering development and relationships within Africa’s biotechnology sector.

The organising committee of the convention is made up of senior executives from organisations such as the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Council for Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR), Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), South African Health Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Southern Africa Development Community Secretariat, and some industry executives.

In 2019, in its second year, the BIO Africa Convention attracted over 900 delegates from 31 countries (18 African and 13 non-African). Going digital allows the convention to continue to deliver on its objectives, build on the momentum gained from the last two conventions and to reach a much wider global audience.

Professor Abdool Karim is the Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for Aids Programme for Research
in South Africa (CAPRISA)

Highlights of the 2020 digital programme include a panel discussion featuring Professor Salim Abdool Karim, the Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19; Dr Lawrence Banks, the Director General of the Centre for Genetic and Engineering and Biotechnology on day one of the convention; and Sir Richard Roberts, the 1993 Nobel Prize Winner for Physiology and Medicine and Dr Haileyesus Getahun, the director of Tripartite FAO/OIE/WHO on day two.

To celebrate women’s month, BIO Africa is proud to be hosting a Women in Leadership lunchtime discussion that will focus on the role of women in the sector, honouring women who have paved the way for the emerging generation interested in venturing into the STEM field. This session will be led by Professor Quaraisha Abdool Karim, the Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for Aids Programme for Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), and features women leaders such as Dr Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, Regional Director at the World Bank; Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, CEO of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA); Dr Seneget Kelemu, Director of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and L ‘Oreal-UNESCO Laurette for Women in Science Awards; and Professor Kholeka Mlisana, an executive at the National Health Laboratory Diseases (NHLS). 

To further celebrate women, day two will host an exciting session with a panel of rising female leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM); and launch a programme with Heritage Stem Camps for Girls, coding with the Microsoft Foundation and a programme for 3D printing of laboratory equipment in collaboration with Trends in Africa and the University of Sussex.

One of the greatest challenges for biotechnology innovators is gaining access to finance instruments for technology development, accessing and strengthening continental manufacturing capabilities and gaining market access. The programme on Finance, Investments and Market Access will feature talks by leading experts on topics such as Innovative financing solutions for African biotech start-ups and SMEs; and Establishing an African Clinical Trials fund and Local Manufacturing for Africa, with a focus on biosimilars. Companies also have an opportunity to be featured on the virtual exhibition: this will increase company visibility, accessibility and provides an opportunity to network with delegates participating in the convention from anywhere in the world.

Other exciting tracks in the Convention include Health, Agricultural and Environmental Biotechnology; Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Natural Products; Cannabis; Zoonotics and Human Health; Innovation Financing and Industrialisation; Investments in Innovations and BIO Africa and international Partnerships; and courses that will be offered in the BIO Africa Academy.

The current state of the world at present and the continuous impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has not deterred the proceedings of this prestigious event. In fact it has opened room for business leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, regulatory authorities and policy makers within the biotechnology sector to join forces and exchange a wide range of expertise and knowledge, in finding immediate solutions to win the global fight against Covid-19. 

BIO Africa Convention 2020 will also launch the Innovation Hub, which is a digital ecosystem aimed at fostering a collaborative network and proving access to resources and information to biotechnology stakeholders on the African continent.

To be part of the BIO Africa 2020 digital Convention, register for free on www.bioafricaconvention.com.

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