Kapa plans to use its technology platform to harness the power of genetic diversity to create protein products applicable to the field of biotechnology.
According to Kapa, South Africa’s rich microbial biodiversity provides an optimal source of potential pro-ducts for the company to explore.
The Cape Biotech Trust has completed an investment agreement with Kapa for a sum of R24-million.
The funding is matched with an additional $3,25-million from foreign investors.
Kapa Biosystems will use the capital to establish a research and development facility for protein engineering in Observatory, Cape Town.
The company plans to employ several local scientists, information technologists, and laboratory technicians within the first year of operations.
Kapa is focused on developing advanced directed evolution technologies within the context of the South African microbial biodiversity – specifically bacteria and fungi.
Directed evolution is the simulation of the processes of natural evolution in a test tube at mole-cular level.
“We believe this technology platform can be applied to the development of protein-based products in a number of large markets including molecular diagnostics, life-science research tools and industrial enzyme applications,” says Paul McEwan, Kapa Biosystems founder and chief scientific officer.
“‘Biotechnology is not defined by a set of products like drugs, but by enabling technologies. The industry has emerged as the result of crucial discoveries in molecular biology that have led to the deciphering of the genetic code in organisms, including the human genome and hundreds of bacterial and fungal genomes.” Cape Biotech portfolio managerJoe Mosala Molete says, “Kapa Biosystems fits in with our mission to help create a regionally-focused and internationally-integrated biotechnology economy with the support of foreign investors.
“Kapa’s expertise will serve as a foundation for a variety of colla-borations between the local and international biotech and academic communities.” The company has an established network of contacts in major US-based biotechnology hubs, namely Cambridge, Massachusetts, San Francisco and California that will aid in the creation of strong inter-national linkages to the South Afri-can biotech economy.
McEwan says a drawcard for Kapa was the quality of South Africa’s scientists.
“The country possesses very good science infrastructure – strong academic departments and research institutions as well as a growing commercial sector.” However, McEwan says that the life sciences industry will benefit from more interaction with scientists and companies from abroad, but that this can only be achieved through international collaboration.
The management team of Kapa Biosystems has a record of successful entrepreneurial ventures.