A new R30 million cleanroom facility has been unveiled at Mintek’s Nanotechnology Innovation Centre (NIC) in Johannesburg, which will allow for the manufacture of devices that permit the rapid diagnosis of illnesses such as malaria.

Commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) last December, the facility is designed to enable the NIC and South Africa’s researchers to develop and fabricate nanotechnology-based diagnostic devices and tools for application in health and the containment of biological reagents.

The facility will also enable the centre to produce nanotechnology-based devices and systems that meet the most stringent International Standards Organisation requirements.

This makes it possible for the NIC to follow good manufacturing practice guidelines and comply with pharmaceutical inspection conventions and cooperation.

Unveiling the facilities, the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, said that the DST was greatly encouraged by the progress government had made since the launch of the National Nanotechnology Strategy in 2005.

“When we launched the strategy, we set ourselves ambitious goals in respect of the provision of clean water, clean and reliable energy, and improved health care. We are committed to doing this cost-effectively, and we remain committed to these goals and focused on their realisation,” explained Pandor.

The Minister added that reliable research equipment and research chairs in the field would enhance the generation of nanotechnology knowledge and nanotechnology innovation in South Africa.