PHOTO CAPTION : Jonathan Lembelani Daka, co-founder at Buboo, a new local laboratory specialising in synthetic biology situated at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria. This lab aims to solve some of the important diseases that Africa faces through development of intellectual property.

New local start-ups in the Biotech laboratory space present exciting prospects, especially when one has the objective of developing intellectual property to leverage an exponential technology called Synthetic Biology to solve some of the important diseases that Africa faces today. After co-founder and CEO of Buboo (Pty) Ltd, Jonathan Lembelani Daka approached Labotec for an array of laboratory equipment for this undertaking, and Labotec’s manufacturer for the Labocool fridge decided to donate a fridge to a local researcher to contribute to their work where Buboo was the recipient, Debbie Shaw from Labotec Marketing decided to investigate and find out more.

Please can you share more about your chosen field of Synthetic Biology, its functions and purposes, and how this aligns with your new company objectives.

We started our company to leverage an exponential technology called Synthetic Biology. Synthetic Biology is a field of science that allows the creation of new biological functions that do not naturally exist using engineering and molecular biology. Our lab is a synthetic biology laboratory and our objectives are to create intellectual property that solves some of the important diseases that Africa faces today.

Can you share something about applications you are using the new equipment for? I believe that you are developing a vaccine for the Covid-19 “South African” strain.

The equipment is being used for our standard work-flow. We are currently developing a vaccine for the Covid-19 “South African” strain that has 5 new mutations from the “Wuhan” parent strain.  We see this as necessary, as it remains to be seen how effective the imported vaccine will be towards the current strain spreading in South Africa.  We hope for the best but in the meantime, a directed and targeted approach has been taken to design a local vaccine for the local strains.

As you mention “Biotechnology generally has the bottleneck of being capital intensive”. What need arose to justify the purchase of new equipment, and was there a reason why you selected Labotec to supply this?

Starting a synthetic biology company is a very costly endeavour, Biotechnology generally has the bottleneck of being capital intensive. Consequently, the purchase of new equipment was a necessity if we were to succeed as a biotech start-up. The decision to select Labotec was pretty straight forward. Labotec is an experienced company in the biotech space and has built a reputation. The success of any start-up hinges on its support structure of experienced institutions and personnel (suppliers, incubators, mentors, business developers etc). So choosing Labotec seemed like a natural thing to do.

Do you have a specific purpose for the donated Labocool fridge?

The donated fridge is used to keep samples associated to our work and that are temperature sensitive within the low temperatures required. We are extremely grateful for this donation.

Are there any future prospects and plans for the laboratory?

We definitely hope to grow from strength to strength. Equipment in any biotech start-up is the foundation of this growth. The equipment has allowed us to set up a synthetic biology workflow. This workflow will be used to solve new problems that may arise in future or indeed improvements on solutions to older biological challenges.

Is there anything you would like to add?

We at Buboo are extremely happy for the partnership we have with Labotec and hope it grows further. The experience they have is just what we need. Furthermore, more biotech start-ups should be encouraged and supported. This requires many other partnerships to ensure their success.

To contact Jonathan Lembelani Daka at Buboo (Pty) Ltd, email lembe.daka@buboobioinnovations.co.za