Down Memory Lane

Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”

Was that Marcel Proust? Let’s leave it be, lest we lose our plot here.

Indeed we have come far.

The year has finally neared to its ending, and, as we reflect back to the year that was, we tend to go far back in time, memory doing what its wont to do – take us as far back as it can. We can also say that when we get to this point that is when we are in the grips of nostalgia. Yes, that was Marcel Proust. And so we remember where we have been, contemplating that as a foundation of sorts, a kind of reflection that, if the mirror is tilted at another angle, may show us a glimpse of the future. Sometimes even more. Because in the business of living – as individual entities, as society, as colleagues in institutions of business – we use the time in the present to put down certain plans that we wish to execute.

Indeed Inqaba Biotechnical industries (Pty) Ltd, trading as inqaba biotec™ in Sub-Saharan Africa, started – like many great things – as an idea conceived in 2000, and came to life in 2002. It was Dr Preisig and Dr de Gama, two of the current directors in the company, who came up with the idea. Though it initially was Dr de Gama who, I imagine, may have said, “Let’s start a business. We could do something in the mushroom business,” excitedly to his friend sitting on the seat next to him as the bus traversed on its trip from Sunnyside to the University of Pretoria. (But of course those weren’t the words, but the ignition.)

From there, the pair partnered with three others, one of which is Prof. Göttfert, and drew up a business plan, which would take almost two years to obtain funding to execute. It was through a loan from the Swiss economic department/government, the Swiss Institute of Technology (in Zurich), and through private from thirty shareholders which saw the kick-starting of the company, finally, in 2002.

We started offering mainly oligo production (using two Polygene machines) and Sanger sequencing.

Five years later we became pioneers – being the first company in Africa to offer genome sequencing using a sequencing technology from 454. Now we synthesise our oligos using the Mermaid oligo synthesiser. We offer Sanger sequencing services (we employ two ABI 3500xl sequencers) and Next Generation Sequencing (by use of the Illumina Miseq and HiSeq250 platforms). In addition, we are proud distributors of bioinformatics software from CLC bio.

We are also proud distributors of various laboratory reagents, plastics and other equipment. This being a venture that began in 2003 when we began distributing molecular biology products from Fermentas (now Thermo Fisher Scientific).

One of the goals of those who were there at the beginning – the fathers of inqaba, so to speak – had a vision of expanding the company into other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In mind, the vision was to develop further the field of science and technology in this part of the homeland. To fulfil this goal, we had to extend our roots further up. In 2010 came into being our East African subsidiary, Inqaba Biotec East Africa, located in Nairobi, Kenya. Four years later, this was followed by inqaba biotec West Africa, rooted in Ibadan, Nigeria.

In between all of this activity of growth, was the development of the Animal Genetics department – which is also a member of the International Society of Animal Genetics (ISAG). The first canine molecular test that we have performed was in 2009. However, things moved slowly, but surely growing, until 2014, where this department grew and developed in incredible speed.

Most recently, we now offer our clients SNP genotyping and methylation analysis, through a partnership with Agena Biosciences, by our latest installation, the MassARRAY platform in 2015.

And in March, 2017, inqaba biotec turns 15 years old! As if to celebrate this, we are moving into our new building in the coming year.

So much has happened. We have grown in our numbers, in business, in trying economic times. And we thank you, valuable customer, for your continued, unwavering support. We hope to continue the good business with you in the future. And to fellow colleagues, thank you for all that you have contributed into making this yet another successful year.

And so we have come this far. And on we shall go. Thank you for 2016. We hope 2017 will even be much, much better.

Happy holidays!


Written by Anathi Jongilanga

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