The DST/Mintek Nanotechnology Innovation Centre (NIC)is a national facility that
is geographically spread across the country and was established at Mintek in 2007
by the Department of Science and Technology. The Mintek NIC activities are aimed
at addressing national priorities highlighted by both the national nanotechnology
strategy and national research and development (R&D) strategy. Importantly, the
Mintek NIC structure was built on the foundation of the national system of innovations
(NSI) to focus on driving South Africa’s transformation from resource-based economy
towards knowledge based economy using nanotechnology.
The Mintek NIC activities focus on a number of issues, including the development
of research platforms, encouraging and promoting the formation of collaborative networds,
addressing human capital development and bridging the “innovation chasm”.
Through the DST/Mintek NIC, collaborative networks have been established locally,
allowing various universities such as the University of Western Cape, Rhodes University
and the University of Johannesburg undertaking and coordinating research activities
in biolabels, sensors and water respectively. Specifically, the activities of NIC
focus on the R&D of various nanostructured materials or nanominerals and their applications
in health (diagnostics, therapeutics), water (monitoring and remediation) and other
This basically entails the development of various nanostructured materials as semi-commercial
products which are further used as therapeutic systems or tools. Importantly, the
nanomaterial systems are used for the development of rapid point-of-care (POC) diagnostic
prototypes (either optical or electrochemical) and to enhance the performance of
membrane systems for water treatment.