What do you get when you cross biotechnology with computer science? Charles Faul, a young entrepreneur, the founder of Akili Labs and NOOTRO and a master’s student at the Biotechnology Innovation Centre at Rhodes University. He built the award-winning FieldLab — a low-cost lab-in-a-box that provides commonly used molecular biology tools in the field — and hopes that one day it will be used in remote areas globally, even in conflict zones.
“I looked towards the future and I saw two emerging fields that have the power to change the world: computer science and biotechnology,” says Faul. “The combination is one of the industries that will revolutionise the world in ways never seen before, changing medical science, renewable energy and more. I decided to gain a working understanding of computer science and physics then combined it with a solid grounding in data handling and a specialisation in biotechnology.”
It was a long journey with a lot of hard work, but Faul has had incredible support from his family and academic supervisors. For him, his parents have always been supportive and encouraging, always helping him to achieve his vision. With this type of support network it’s hardly surprising that Faul has big plans for the future.
“I want to grow and develop the technology we’re working on and revolutionise medical diagnostics with a parallel aim of establishing an R&D biotechnology firm in South Africa,” he says. “I want to assist scientists in Africa with bringing solutions to real world problems into the market with a focus on what’s needed, not what’s wanted.” — Tamsin Oxford