UWC is pioneering technological innovations that bring positive change to communities. This drive is supported by UWC’s Technology Transfer Oce (TTO), which promotes the development and protection of intellectual property produced by the University’s research community, sta and students.

UNIQTYPER® FORENSIC DNA KIT: A rapid, highly discriminatory and more a ordable DNA profi ling kit for the African market, the UNIQTYPERR Forensic DNA Kit could prove invaluable in many investigations. Launched in late 2018 as an alpha-prototype, the kit targets DNA on the Y chromosome only carried by men. It will give law enforcement agencies across the continent the ability to uniquely identify the perpetrators of crimes such as rape. The kit will also assist in familial studies and paternal lineage kinship analysis.

IBATECH NATURAL BIOFERTILISER: A biofertiliser has been developed by UWC’s Indigenous Botanical Adjuvant Technology (iBATECH) from kraalbos, an indigenous plant. It contains valuable bioflavonoids, bio-surfactants, organic acids and antioxidants. These components display antimicrobial properties and can increase the polyphenolic and sugar content of plants, thereby improving overall plant health and yield.

BAOBAB LIMS: An African-led, aordable sample and laboratory management tool for biobanking, SANBI’s Baobab LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) can be implemented in low and middle-income countries which previously were rarely able to implement an LIMS. Designed for the collection, processing and storage of human biospecimens, Baobab LIMS is free and open source and can be customised to the specific needs of any laboratory.


HYSA SYSTEMS CENTRE OF COMPETENCE: Hydrogen is one of the most promising alternate fuels available: when hydrogen fuel cells are used, the only waste product is water. UWC’s HySA Systems Centre of Competence and its national and international partners have introduced several hydrogen fuel cell technology innovations. A collaboration with the South African Post O ce will see the establishment of a small fleet of hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric delivery scooters.

SIGNSUPPORT: The mobile assistive app uses pre-recorded videos in South African Sign Language to help the deaf understand instructions from pharmacists who can hear but cannot sign. The videos, which cater for a range of medical needs, are loaded onto cellphones and can be accessed via the app, which was designed with the assistance of the deaf. The app suite includes an authoring tool to create additional scenarios and a mobile video relay.


BIOLABELS NODE: The unit uses nanoparticles combined with metals such as gold and silver to target diseased cells in the body. The NIC has already patented a testing kit for HIV which is cheaper and more consistent than existing ones because it uses a peptide that can be made in a laboratory. Other research which could be patented in the future includes a metred dose inhaler (like an asthma pump) that could help cure TB, tests for diabetes and Ebola, a gel that uses nanomaterials to encapsulate HIV prevention drugs and a way to target fat cells that could help cure obesity.


Recent Achievements in Research

Researchers from UWC’s Astrophysics Group contributed to the first research publication to emerge, in 2018, from the argestscience experiment ever embarked on in the southern hemisphere, the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope. The University hosts the UNESCO Chair in Hydrogeology based at the Institute of Water Studies. The Chair was created in 2001 to focus on water resource management in Africa.

Professor Yongxin Xu is the inaugural incumbent. Professor Julian May is the UNESCO Chair in African Food Systems. The Chair focuses on current research and training in building a sustainable food system in Africa which provides adequate, nutritious and safe food for poor and vulnerable communities.

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UWC’s Research Repository consists of close to 3 000 papers authored by UWC researchers – all of which are freely accessible online to the public. The UWC Gender Equity Unit was awarded the Association ofCommonwealth Universities’ Gender Grant in 2019. It was awarded to Dr Mary Hames, Director of the GEU, by the patron of the ACU, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. The grant will be used to research existing institutional policies to ensure and promote gender equity.

Leading the Way

UWC continues to prove itself as a world-class hub of science, technology and community engagement. UWC is instrumental in the development of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) international project that is building the most powerful and advanced radio telescope in the world. The telescope will enable astronomers to ‘see’ the universe in unprecedented detail. The NRF awarded a R35 million grant for Phase 2 of the Hydrogen and Real-time eXperiment (HIRAX). The project, which involves six South African institutions, is a planned radio telescope to be installed alongside the SKA in the Karoo that will map the southern sky.


The SA National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) at UWC conducts bioinformatics and computational biology research relevant to South African, African and global populations. In 2019, SANBI formed part of an international group of experts exploring global e orts through the establishment of the Public Health Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology (PHA4GE) to bring bioinformatics closer to Public Health. PHA4GE has already begun to take some critical formative steps with the establishment of technical resources, an organisational charter, a code of conduct and domain-focused technical and data sharing working groups.

UWC has produced revolutionary programmes that keep apace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a technological revolution that is changing the way we work, socialise and learn. To equip students with the skills required in a changing economy, UWC is o ering Africa’s fi rst Postgraduate Diploma in Data Analytics and Business Intelligence, a master’s programme in Data Science and its fi rst online Management Development Programme. UWC has also launched South Africa’s fi rst Postgraduate Diploma in Immersive Technologies in AR/VR.

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