CiTi, CPGR Sign Agreement to Launch Pan African Biotech Incubator OneBio in Cape Town

Updated on 2 May 2018

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The Creative Counsel launches incubator for black-owned businesses in the advertising sectoThe Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), together with entrepreneurs Michael Fichardt and Dr. Nick Walker, last week announced that they have signed a collaboration agreement with the Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research (CPGR) to launch a bespoke biotech incubator, OneBio.

OneBio will provide life science startups with funding, business support, lab facilities and office space; access to networks; mentorship; and connections to resources, international markets and large corporate partners, both in Africa and internationally. Led by Michael Fichardt and Nick Walker, the incubator will build on the unique expertise and experience of CiTi and CPGR, who have been successfully providing business incubation and biotech support services respectively, for more than a decade.

OneBio will support startups at the convergence of laboratory work and computational science and will draw projects/talent from a diversity of disciplines, including material science, energy, food, natural products, nutraceuticals, agriculture and healthcare. Through its work, OneBio will build and nurture a connected Pan-African innovation ecosystem, helping Africa become a center of global biotech innovation.

Internationally, a growing number of opportunities are emerging for life science entrepreneurs, with leading startup accelerators, such as San Francisco-based IndieBio and Y-Combinator, providing funding and business acceleration services to the biotech vertical. The South Africa government has recognized the opportunity for the country to flourish as a globally competitive biotechnology economy, launching the ‘The Bio-economy Strategy’ in 2013. The vision is for South Africa’s bio-economy to be a significant contributor to the country’s economy by 2050. OneBiowill support this goal with the development of critical entrepreneurial skills and support for home-grown biotech ventures.

Ian Merrington, CEO of CiTi, says “We have such an enormous opportunity to use technology for good, in Africa. At CiTi we believe that biotech is the next frontier where exponential tech enabled innovation can unlock affordable solutions to Africa’s health challenges. In addition to this, the convergence of OneBio with CiTI’s data cluster and the capability of the Explore Data Science Academy , provides a unique and possibly magic recipe for world class success!”

“We are excited about the OneBio partnership because it allows us to combine CPGR’s experience in enabling African biotech endeavors through cutting-edge laboratory & bio-informatic services with CiTi’s track record in supporting and accelerating entrepreneurs”, said Dr Reinhard Hiller. “OneBio will have a strong focus on grooming successful African biotech jockeys, in a lean startup and execution-focused program. We are excited about the opportunity to further contribute to the creation of a vibrant African biotech eco-system.”

“Today, biology as a technology is at a similar inflection point as the software industry was in the mid-1980s, poised for staggering growth. Biological tools and techniques continue to improve at exponential rates and investors are beginning to understanding the incredible potential of the tech. OneBio will provide a platform for African biotech entrepreneurs to be part of this next global wave of innovation.” Michael Fichardt, CEO and Co-founder OneBio.

OneBio is currently looking to connect with potential partners and biotech startups who would like to register early stage interest in the programme. Visit the website– – to get find out more.

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