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University of Cambridge (UK) innovators visit BioInnovate Africa offices

University of Cambridge (UK) innovators visit BioInnovate Africa offices

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Nairobi, 9th March 2017—An early stage innovator and scientists from the University of Cambridge, UK and the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi visited BioInnovate Africa Offices at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Nairobi, Kenya.

The team, comprising of Peter Davenport and Raghd Rostom, and accompanied by Julius Osaso from BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi, were exploring opportunities to develop and promote a new type of open source paper-based diagnostic technology for identifying, for example, crop and livestock diseases, as well as environmental pollutants (e.g. heavy metals) in eastern Africa. The cell-free paper-based diagnostics technology would need to be able to allow low-cost, in-field tests with a wide range of possible specificities. The team met with BioInnovate staff (Julius Ecuru and Shira Mukiibi), and icipe senior scientists (Dan Masiga and Vincent Owino).

“From a market and business perspective, it is crucial to develop appropriate business models that target specific users at a regional scale while considering key aspects of localisation, to enhance profitability and create economies of scale”, noted Dr Ecuru.

From left to right: Julius Ecuru, Shira Mukiibi, Daniel Masiga, Vincent Owino, and the visiting team comprising of Julius Osaso, Peter Davenport and Raghd Rostom at the meeting to explore the possibility of developing an innovative diagnostic tool for farmers.

The group observed that proper and early diagnosis of diseases or pollutants could significantly improve health outcomes or agronomic practices of smallholder farmers. The challenge, however, is to “develop assays that are affordable, reliable and can detect multiple disease conditions in a single test”, observed the group.