About Us

Strait Access Technologies (SAT) was founded in 2008 as a start-up company at the University of Cape Town. Our objective is the development of cost effective and enabling technologies to treat heart valve diseases. Our focus is primarily on creating intelligent surgical products to treat Rheumatic patients in emerging economies. Solving the complex technical challenges for devices required in younger Rheumatic candidates, has resulted in breakthrough solutions that have competitive advantages for older patients with degenerative heart valve conditions – in emerging and developed economies.

Specifically, our second generation balloon expandable TAVR valve for rheumatic and degenerative aortic valve disease is designed to treat the entire aortic valve disease spectrum from calcific aortic stenosis to pure aortic regurgitation in patients with non-calcified, compliant annuli.

Our Leadership Team

SAT was founded by a small team of clinical and biomedical professionals operating at the interface of the Industrialised and the Developing World. The founders and a dedicated group of designers, engineers and chemists combine experience and expertise to create innovative medical devices for the heart.

Sadly, one of SAT’s founding partners and Technical Director, Professor Deon Bezuidenhout, died suddenly in April 2023. Prof. Bezuidenhout, the Head of Biomaterials Sciences at the Cardiovascular Research Unit of the University of Cape Town until his passing, had been intimately involved in the management of SAT, overseeing the technical aspects from R&D to production. (Please read his Obituary here.)

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Prof. Peter Zilla
CEO and Medical Director
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Prof. David Williams
Executive Chairman and Technical Director
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Julian Lea
Chief Operating Officer

Professor Zilla’s background as a heart surgeon and incumbent of the Christiaan Barnard Chair is reflected in two MDs, a PhD and a PD degree, as well as four surgical specialist qualifications in Europe and South Africa. For decades he has dedicated his passion towards the fight against Rheumatic Heart Disease - something clearly shown in his 31 international patents for implantable cardiovascular devices, including the design of SAT’s innovative, intuitive and inclusive transcatheter technologies.



Professor David Williams is one of the world’s leading authorities on biomaterials and implantable medical devices, with 40 years experience in the academic, governmental, legal and industrial aspects of this business. He was head of the Department of Clinical Engineering and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool; Editor in Chief of the high-impact journal “Biomaterials”. He has consulted with most global medical device companies and was a member of Scientific Committees of the European Commission.


Executive Chairman and Technical Director

Julian Lea holds a degree in Economics from the University of Cape Town. He has over 25 years of experience in leading global businesses such as Toyota and BMW, in local and international locations. Julian started at SAT in 2018 as Head of Business Affairs. He manages the daily operations of SAT, and is the lead executive on commercial and investor matters.


Chief Operating Officer

Our production Facility

View the video of our high-end production facility in Cape Town.