Friday, April 22, 2016

AfricaRice scientist Khady Nani Dramé selected among top Leaders of Tomorrow

Dr Khady Nani Dramé, molecular biologist at the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), was one of the five Leaders of Tomorrow, all based in Africa, who successfully made it to the final and were ranked joint runner-up team in ‘The Voices of Tomorrow Global Bio-Innovation’ competition, organized as part of the 2016 GapSummit, University of Cambridge, UK, 4-6 April 2016.

GapSummit is Global Biotech Revolution’s (GBR) leadership summit in biotechnology. The Vocies of Tomorrow Competition, organized by GapSummit, provides a platform for aspiring leaders in biotechnology and life sciences to develop and implement breakthrough solutions to grand challenges in the global bio-economy.

As part of this year's GapSummit, 89 of the 100 Leaders of Tomorrow attending the summit from over 40 nationalities chose to participate in the Voices of Tomorrow Global Bioinnovation Competition, forming into 21 teams.

Guided by mentors assigned by the GapSummit 2016 organizers, each team submitted a written project proposal that described their solutions to some of the challenges facing the global bio-economy between now and 2050. The best 10 teams were chosen as finalists by entrepreneurship experts to pitch their vision and ideas to a panel of experienced judges at GapSummit.

Following the pitches, the top three teams were commended by the judges and awarded prizes, which included additional mentoring opportunities to help them further develop and implement their project proposals.

Dr Dramé and her team mates identified that biotech research in Africa lacks the necessary ecosystem to translate research findings into innovative products, which could contribute significantly to the development of the regional and global bio-economy.

They proposed the creation of an African Biotech Industry Park (ABIP), an academia-industry framework for Africa to translate more of the academic research into businesses and to strengthen the biotech industry, mainly in agriculture, healthcare and bio-energy sectors. 

The first part of ABIP focuses on the building of a Virtual Innovation Platform, which will connect via an online platform African biotech innovators, who have potentially impactful products, with investors. A longer-term plan of ABIP is the establishment of a biotech park, first in Nigeria and then in other African countries.

ABIP will include R&D facilities, a business incubator and accelerator, open to students or researchers with bright ideas and to start-ups interested in co-shared lab/office space. ABIP aims to nurture ideas into valuable biotech innovations that will change the African society and boost its bio-economy.

Through ABIP, the team expects to take biotech-based innovations made in Africa to the global market and promote bio-entrepreneurship in Africa. “Fortunately, the team can tap into similar successful centers that exist in US and Europe, including in Cambridge, to move ABIP forward,” said Dr Dramé.

Besides Dr Dramé, the ABIP team included Adam Abdulrahman Idoko, MSc student, University of Glasgow, Assistant Lecturer, University of Ilorin;  Adedapo Adediji,  PhD Candidate, University of Ibadan / IITA; Lukman  Aroworamimo, Managing Director, Inqaba Biotec;  and Voke Toye,  CEO, Biologix, PhD Candidate, University of Lagos .

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