Stellenbosch University (SU) and the University Technology Fund(UTF) have invested R7 million ($473k) in BioCODE, a South African healthtech startup. The funds will be used to help the startup fund the development of a rapid inflammatory test.Inflammatory illnesses can be detected and monitored with the use of this test.
“From small beginnings, this team has worked hard and is now nearly ready to bring their innovation to the market,” Anita Nel, chief director of the university’s Technology Transfer and Innovation Division, Innovus, said in a statement.
“Innovus Technology Transfer and Stellenbosch University LaunchLab have been working very closely with the team and supported them in protecting their intellectual property, setting up the company, forming partnerships, and raising investment and funding.”
“No wonder that the UTF recognised their invention as a worthwhile investment.”
This is the second investment the UTF has made in BioCODE. The venture fund focuses on commercialising technology and research that originates from South African universities.
The fund contributed R5 million. SU contributed an additional R2 million as part of its partnership with the fund.
“The future of medicine will primarily rely on prevention rather than cures,” Wayne Stocks, partner at Stocks & Strauss, the appointed fund managers of the UTF said.
“BioCODE is at the forefront of preventative medicine making it an investment with global potential.”
A collaboration between SU’s Physiological Sciences Department and the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering resulted in the launch of the startup.
Professor Resia Pretorius, Professor Anna-Mart Engelbrecht, and Professor Willie Perold are among the startup’s researchers and founders.
BioCODE is working on a rapid test to detect inflammatory molecules in the blood.
“Serum Amyloid A (SAA) and other inflammatory molecules increase when a person has inflammation,” Pretorius explained.
“Cardiovascular disease, Type-2 diabetes, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, acute COVID and even pheno-type long COVID have increased inflammatory molecules like SAA in circulation.”
The rapid test returns results within minutes. The results are then integrated with the startup’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform to monitor patients and their results.
BioCODE hopes the test will be one of several disease risk screening tools it will develop.
“Ultimately, we want to lead the biotech movement in South Africa towards accessible preventative health care, and we want to empower people to take charge of their own health,” Pretorius said.