Go to most startup incubators and accelerators around South Africa and you’ll see a fair few good businesses, but chances are few of them are actively pushing the bounds of science. It’s pretty exciting then when you see someone doing something a little different.
One such startup, AzarGen, has just joined the LaunchLab in Stellenbosch and it looks pretty damn cool.
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According to a press release sent to Ventureburn, AzarGen is a biotechnology company focused on developing human therapeutic proteins using advanced genetic engineering and synthetic biology techniques in plants.
Started by four PhD students at Stellenbosch University’s Institute for Plant Biotechnology, the company began attracting investment, leading two of the founders Dr Mauritz Venter and Dr Cobus Zwiegelaar to run the business full time.
From there, AzarGen attracted US$3.1-million in funding from Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which it has earmarked for scale-up production in the world’s largest plant-based pharmaceutical facility, functional tests in the laboratory and animal trials prior to 1st in-human clinical trials.
It’s also appointed an advisory board from the likes of Cape Venture Partners (CVP), Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), and Holtz Biopharma Consulting (USA).
According to Venter, the company consider the move into the LaunchLab as part of its ‘next evolution’. The incubator, he says, is “a stepping stone to experience growth and the ‘vibe’ of an excellent entrepreneurial ecosystem”.
“AzarGen is a great example of how we believe South African technology companies can attract the attention of leading international industry game changers. They are one of South Africa’s outstanding biotech companies. We welcome them in the LaunchLab and we believe that we will find more areas of collaboration through pooling our networks and relationships to create symbiotic relationships that can also benefit the wider research and entrepreneurial community. ” said Anita Nel, CEO of Innovus and Senior Director of Innovation and Business Development at Stellenbosch University.