Biocatalysis involves the application of enzymes to perform chemical syntheses or transformations. The advantages of this application of biotechnology are the ability to carefully control the selectivity of chemical reactions, to reduce production costs, and minimize environmental impact. The technology is broadly applicable, and particularly relevant to the South African chemicals industry, where the lack of enabling technology is a limiting factor to business growth in specialty and fine chemicals.
COST is a system that predates the European Union¿s well-known Framework Programmes, in which South Africa is also participating, but is parallel and complementary to them. Institutions from many European nations participate in these networks. The biocatalysis network includes institutions from the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Spain, France, Hungary, The Netherlands and Portugal.
COST activities operate on the basis of participating countries agreeing to support the participation of their researchers. The South African Department of Science and Technology has agreed to support this collaboration in conjunction with the CSIR.
"CSIR Bio/Chemtek's participation will build significant long-term South African research and development capacity in biocatalysis and environmentally friendly chemical synthesis. Although the research will be pre-competitive, an invaluable basis for technology development and industrial application will be laid," Dr Brady commented.
Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, Group Executive: International Co-operation and Resources of the Department of Science and Technology, says the participation in this COST activity will add a new dimension of high-profile cooperation in non-competitive research to the SA-EU partnership. It is hoped that it will also serve as an invaluable exploration of the opportunities for greater South African participation in COST in future.
COST focuses on non-competitive research, aiming to solve environmental and cross-border problems of public utility through scientific cooperation. It has a membership of 33 countries, covering most of Central, Eastern and Western Europe. Participation is, however, also open to other non-European international partners, and countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia regularly participate in COST activities.
Issued by the CSIR on behalf of the CSIR and the Department of Science and Technology.
The CSIR is the largest R&D and implementation technology agency in Africa with a track record spanning more than 50 years. Structured around eight distinct business areas, it delivers innovation and technology solutions in support of its clients and stakeholders. See www.CSIR.co.za or contact +27 (0) 12 841 2000.
More about COST at http://cost.cordis.lu/src/home.cfm
For the Department of Science and Technology
Mr Daan du Toit
Manager: Strategic Partnerships
Cellular: 082 387 9016