top of page
Rectangle 12 (6).png

Life & Biosciences


The life sciences industry comprises companies operating in the research, development and manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology-based food and medicines, medical devices, biomedical technologies, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, food processing, and other products that improve the lives of organisms.

The Bioeconomy Strategy, driven and guided by the Department of Science and Technology, is a road map showcasing how we can harness our country’s wealth of knowledge and natural biological resources to develop new, globally competitive products that are responsive and relevant to the needs of South Africans.

Differentiating attributes

Start-ups wanting to do business in, develop products involving, or develop products for the life science sector, or involving the life sciences sector, needs to consider applicable regulations and policies specific to:

  • Pharmaceuticals

  • Biotechnology-based food and medicines

  • Medical devices

  • Biomedical technologies

  • Nutraceuticals

  • Cosmeceuticals

  • Food processing

  • Indigenous Knowledge

Useful resources
  • The life sciences regulatory regime in South Africa

  • SAHPRA: South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.

  • SAHPRA: Licenses and Permits.

  • National Biotechnology Strategy of South Africa.

  • Regulatory framework for GMOs in South Africa.

Requirements for setting up

The South African regulatory regime specific to the life sciences sector is extensive. It is important for a start-up with business interests and/or activity relevant to the life sciences sector, to identify the applicable regulatory context and consult the applicable regulatory bodies. Specific regulatory guidelines can be found for the following:

  • General, Ectd & Human Medicines

  • Complementary

  • Inspectorate And Good Manufacturing Practices

  • Medical Devices And In Vitro Diagnostics

  • Veterinary Medicines

  • Names And Scheduling

  • Regulatory Compliance

  • Clinical Trials

  • Radiation Control

  • Vigilance Guidelines

  • Biologicals

  • Unregistered Products.

Activities involving Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are likewise extensively regulated, falling within the scope of several ministries and regulatory bodies.

South Africa’s policy and legislative framework for biodiversity is well developed, providing a strong basis for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. South Africa is one of the few countries in the world to have a Biodiversity Act and a National Biodiversity Institute.
Key components of the national policy and legislative framework for biodiversity include:

  • The White Paper on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biological Diversity (1997)

  • The National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004)

  • The National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act (Act 57 of 2003)

  • The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) (2005)

  • The National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment (NSBA) (2004, currently being reviewed and updated)

  • The National Biodiversity Framework (NBF) (2008)

  • The National Protected Area Expansion Strategy (NPAES) (2008).

In addition to national legislation, some of South Africa’s nine provinces have their own provincial biodiversity legislation, as nature conservation is a concurrent function of national and provincial government in terms of the Constitution (Act 108 of 1996).

Differentiating attributes
Useful resources
Related topics
Life & Biosciences
National Health Act (NHA)
Image by Mario Gogh
SA Government
09 May 2022
White BG image_edited.png
Life & Biosciences
South Africa’s policy and legislative framework for biodiversity
Image by Mario Gogh
SA Government
09 May 2022
White BG image_edited.png
bottom of page