A promise of seed funding for localisation of medical device manufacturing was made at last Friday’s online launch of the Medical Device and Diagnostic Innovation Cluster (MeDDIC), a national coordinating structure hosted by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). The call for proposals will be published within days on the MeDDIC website.

MeDDIC has been some five years in the making and while SAMED was not among its original architects, we have become one of the structure’s master artisans, occupying a seat on its Steering Committee and heading up its Regulatory Working Group.

With the SAMRC, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) as its main partners, MeDDIC is an initiative to coordinate, concentrate and maximise the efforts of a wide range of role-players in the field of innovating, locally manufacturing and commercialising medical devices and diagnostics. Much of their joint effort will be directed at removing bottlenecks and obstacles to local progress.

Dr Michelle Mulder, Acting Director of Grants, Innovation and Product Development at the SAMRC, said MeDDIC’s action agenda had potentially broad impact and included:

  • The publication of a long-awaited landscape analysis of the local medical technology sector within the next quarter.
  • The convening of a regular stakeholder forum, commencing in April.
  • Providing support to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) for the development of an online registration system for medical devices.
  • Assisting the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) to gear up its ability to audit and certify ISO 13485 compliance.

SAMRC President and CEO Prof Glenda Gray pledged that the council would leverage its considerable “convening power” in support of MeDDIC, while the TIA’s Acting Director Patrick Krappie emphasised that the agency’s investment was more than financial. “We are seen by the market as a funder (of innovation) but we have an important role to play in addressing systemic challenges,” he said.