04 Dec Fellow Business Update: Loretta Magalula | The Patch
Loretta is originally born from eMalahleni in Mpumalanga and raised in Swaziland where she grew up and later moved to Johannesburg to start her university studies. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in BSc specialising in biochemistry, physiology and cellular biology. After her undergraduate, she interned at the CSIR before going on to complete her Honours degree in biotechnology at the University of Pretoria. After her Honours, she proceeded to complete her MSc Clinical Science & Immunology at the University of Cape Town where she is currently finishing her PhD in Medical Biochemistry.
The story behind Incitech began in 2014 when Loretta attended her second Startership event. After her first Startership event, she became struck by the ability to start an idea and to develop it through the process of ideation and validation in a short space of time. Thus, in her second year in attendance to the event, she was determined to pitch and develop her own idea during the weekend. The idea was novel: a home HIV testing device, that is simple, convenient and easy to use known as The MicroPatch. With the help of three other fellows, the idea quickly developed and soon impressed the judges and won the first prize. Since then, the team’s journey has continued: joining two ESquared accelerator programs – one of which was the pilot phase of ESquared’s accelerator program. They have since partnered with hardware technology incubator, Savant. They have also received seed funding from the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) managed by Cape Craft and Design Institute and the SAB Foundation and also won the pitching competition at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress Summit held in Johannesburg in 2017.
Currently, the team has partnered with the Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Research Institute who will help with the refining the MicroPatch as well as with clinical trials. The team have also developed three working prototypes of the device for which they have filed patent applications for. In South Africa, there are a few HIV self-testing kits in the market however The MicroPatch’s competitive edge is that it doesn’t require multiple components to get it to work like other testing kits on the market, however, is a very easy to use, virtually painless, fully-integrated single device which sticks on your skin and is activated by a single button. Looking in the future, the team are looking to raise funding to further develop the technology and to get the device into the market (which will take approximately 3 years).