Naledi Pandor opens bio-manufacturing centre in Pretoria

By Drum Digital
16 May 2016

The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, opened a bio-manufacturing centre in Pretoria at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Friday.

By Ayanda Sitole

The project has been established to support small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) involved in bio-manufacturing by enabling them to exploit market opportunities.

Pandor believes the local manufacturing sector has been slow to adopt innovative manufacturing technologies leading to limited value addition to raw materials and a steady increase in the country’s trade deficit.

The project aims to enable the CSIR to develop unique insights into the potential of the bio-economy and bio-manufacturing sector and create permanent and temporary jobs while the economic impact is projected at about R250 million per annum within the next five years.

At the launch, Pandor outlined the vision behind the project.

“The key strategic focus is to provide an environment for the re-industrialisation of South Africa through the diversification of the economy, “she says.

“The BIDC therefore contributes to the development of new, innovative products and new industrial value chains which revitalise the local industry stimulate export markets and increase local competitiveness.”

The Department of Science and Technology says The Bio-Manufacturing Industry Development Centre (BIDC) is a first of its kind in South Africa. Currently it is supporting 19 enterprises of which 16 are owned by black entrepreneurs, including 10 black women-owned enterprises.

BIDC Manager Dr Dusty Gardiner says to date, 33 products with applications in the cosmetics, nutrition and biotechnology industries have been developed and transferred to the enterprises.

The programme has resulted in 105 permanent jobs being created, the majority of which are within the enterprises and their value chains, while an additional 165 temporary jobs have also been created.

Gardiner says 54 interns have received training in the BIDC vocational learning programme in order to provide the bio manufacturing sector with a skilled workforce.

CSIR Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sibusiso Sibisi said the CSIR performs research to stimulate and improve the competitiveness of industry, and thereby contributes to the economy of the country.

“We need to think differently. We need to explore new ways and mechanisms to enter areas of activities such as the beneficiation of our natural resources to create jobs, manufacture high-end components and export them,” he says.

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