CSIR senior technology transfer manager Dr Janine Chantson was one of four co-chairs at the first Massachusetts-South Africa Conference on Global Innovation and Technology Transfer held in Stellenbosch on 8-11 June 2015. Janine became an M-SAT Fellow following the 2013 Massachusetts-South Africa Technology (M-SAT) Fellowship Programme. CSIR researchers, Dr Dalu Mancama, Dr Makobetsa Khati and Petra de Jager were invited speakers at the conference and the CSIR’s, Dr Avashnee Chetty and Dr Matshawe Tukulula also attended.
The theme for the conference was Translating Scientific Discoveries into Commercial Products for Infectious Disease Diagnosis and Management. The programme specifically emphasised translational scientific efforts in the tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and neglected tropical disease sector. It attracted 41 delegates, which included bioentrepreneurs, bioinformaticians, biologists, biomedical engineers, chemists, clinicians, entrepreneurs, a mathematician, a veterinarian and pathologist, and even an architect.
Janine says, “The conference provided an excellent platform for networking and for the delegates to identify and discuss areas of mutual interest and opportunities for longer-term translational research collaborations and partnerships. As a result, possible collaborations with US counterparts may arise.”
She says the first two days of the conference focussed on translational research outputs – new drugs, diagnostics, or platform technologies for diagnosing or managing infectious diseases. “The third day’s sessions allowed for entrepreneurs to share their experiences of starting a new venture in the infectious diseases space. Representatives from funding agencies such as Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Strategic Health Innovation Partnership and PATH were invited to discuss opportunities for collaboration and current funding trends. Following the conference, the CSIR is now exploring ways of working together with PATH and the MRC on their Global Health Innovation Hub initiative,” she adds.
Janine concludes, “Funding support from the DST, Tufts University and Spoor and Fischer is gratefully acknowledged.”The three other co-chairs of the conference, also M-SAT Fellows, were Dr Erika Bechtold, a senior licensing associate at the Tufts University Office of Technology Transfer and industry Collaboration; Dr Douglas Sanyahumbi, director at the University of the Western Cape’s Technology Transfer Office; and Michael Pratt, director of business development at the Boston University Office for Technology Development.