Wednesday, 04 November 2009

Agrifood Technology station to help Western Cape businesses develop new food products


In a bid to drive innovation in the food sector, the Agrifood Technology Station (ATS) along with the Provincial Department of Economic Development and Tourism are rolling out the Food Innovation Programme.

The programme will see the ATS design, develop and pilot a comprehensive food innovation programme in the Western Cape Province.

Head of the ATS, Larry Dolley said this venture will involve them working with small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) over several months in a bid to provide them with the necessary skills and tools to develop their innovative ideas.

“Some companies have ideas which possibly have innovative potential, others have good ideas ripe for innovative practice and then there are those who have ideas but just don’t know that it has potential,” he said.

Dolley said they are currently in the process of meeting and interviewing various businesses who have applied to participate in this unique programme.

Businesses eligible for participation in the programme are not only those who want to develop an innovative product.

Dolley said innovation is also about taking an existing product, system or process and improving on it. He said businesses who meet these criteria will also qualify for participation in the programme.

With funding of R200 000, ATS plans to work with10 businesses during the next few months.

The programme includes workshops, on-site visits, business planning and various other technical programmes that will support innovation.

The station, which is located on the CPUT Bellville campus, is well positioned to provide innovation support to small and medium enterprises.

It boasts highly qualified and experienced staff, including scientists, technologists and technical experts.

The station will also rely on its existing network of consultants to participate in various areas of the programme.

The station will also roll out the Food Technology for Non-Technologists programme, which is aimed at equipping un-skilled individuals who are working in the industry with the appropriate skills and the Food Safety programme, which looks at helping businesses to formulate safety programmes.

Both programmes are funded by the department. Dolley said funding for the three projects totals R450 000.

Meanwhile, Dr Chris Nhlapo, DVC Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships, said CPUT supports this initiative as it will add impetus to the institution’s bid in vigorously driving the regional innovation system.

“It is our first prize to make CPUT the hotbed of innovation by being the driver of innovation activities in the Western Cape. We have already received a vote of confidence from the department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Western Cape Provincial government,” said Dr Nhlapo.

By Candes Keating Photograph: Head of the ATS, Larry Dolley(back) with Technologist Ndumiso Mshicilel and Intern Lungiswa Mkiswa in one of the station’s state of the art laboratories.

Written by CPUT News