FAQs for scholars

1. What is the Falling Walls Lab?

Share your idea, win a trip to Berlin

The Falling Walls Lab is an interdisciplinary forum for aspiring scientists and professionals from around the world. It is part of the annual, internationally renowned conference for breakthroughs in science and society, the Falling Walls Conference. The Falling Walls Lab offers hundreds of emerging talents, entrepreneurs, and innovators a stage to pitch their research work, initiatives, or business models to their peers, a distinguished jury from academia and business, and the general public.

Over the course of the year, international Falling Walls Labs are organised by academic institutions throughout the world. The winners of each international Lab travel to the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, which takes place every year on 8 November. At the Berlin Lab, 100 Finalists receive the opportunity to present their work in front of a distinguished jury and attend the Falling Walls Conference on 9 November, where they get to meet the world’s top scientists. The three winners of the Berlin Lab are additionally given the chance to present their ideas the next day on the grand stage of the Falling Walls Conference to an international audience.


2. What is my benefit if I participate?

First and foremost, the Falling Walls Lab is a platform for your work and ideas. Once you are selected among the participants, you will be invited to share your project, research work, or business ideas with other outstanding individuals who are dedicated to innovation and new ideas.


What can you win at the international Falling Walls Labs:

The most intriguing presentations of each international Falling Walls Lab, hosted by an academic partner institution, will qualify for the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin on 8 November and receive a scholarship for the Falling Walls Conference on 9 November. Accommodation is covered from 8 to 9 November and travel costs are sponsored by each academic partner institution.


What can you win at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin:

The Falling Walls Lab Finale on 8 November gathers the most outstanding candidates in Berlin, Germany. The three winners of the Lab Finale receive a cash prize and will be invited to present their ideas at the Falling Walls Conference the next day - together with some of the most distinguished scientists of our time.

3. Who can apply for the Falling Walls Lab?

Dedicated to science communication, the Falling Walls Lab addresses a broad range of people from all professional backgrounds and disciplines at the beginning of their careers. Our aim is to provide our target demographic with a platform where they can present their innovative ideas and connect with fellow researchers and entrepreneurs from various fields. In order to pinpoint and reach these early-career innovators, we needed to develop a mechanism. We introduced our eligibility criteria to help us reach our target group and provide a level playing field for all participants.

We are looking for:

  • Scholars, researchers, and scientists (BA-students, MA-students, PhD-/ doctoral candidates, and Postdocs)

  • Entrepreneurs, engineers, and young professionals (Start-ups, inventions, initiatives, and business ideas)

  • Innovators from all areas – science, the humanities, arts, business, and technology

Eligibility Criteria - If at least one of the following criteria applies, the applicant is eligible to apply:

If a person has a Bachelor’s degree, the degree should not date back more than 10 years.
If a person has a Master’s degree, the degree should not date back more than 7 years.*
If a person has a PhD, the degree should not date back more than 5 years.**

Postdocs and students currently enrolled in university are also eligible to apply.

The applicant has to be of legal age (18 years or older) in order to participate in the Falling Walls Lab.

* An MD (excl. a doctoral dissertation) will be considered equivalent to a Master's degree. 

** A Dr. Med. (incl. a doctoral dissertation) will be considered equivalent to a PhD. 

4. We are working on a project as a group. Can we apply for a Lab as a group?

You cannot apply for a Lab as a group, since individual grades and the curriculum vitae of the applicant are important factors in the evaluation process of your application. If you are a member of a project group, please choose one representative to apply for the Lab. If you are selected to participate in a Lab, your group representative will present your project. You are obviously free to include the names of the group members on your presentation slides in order to acknowledge and appreciate the group effort behind the project. However, it is important that you clearly highlight the extent of your individual contribution to the project.  

5. How does the application process work?

To apply, please visit our website at: falling-walls.com/apply and follow the steps in the online application form.

Choose the Lab you would like to apply for. It should be in a city located closest to you. Fill in your basic data, explain your personal motivation and the topic you would like to present. Please be prepared to upload your CV in PDF format.

Filling out the application form should take no longer than 10 minutes. As soon as you successfully finished your application, you will receive a notification in your browser window and via email.

After the respective deadline passes, a committee will make a pre-selection of candidates and will contact you within two weeks to let you know about the result of your application. Should you be selected to participate in a local Lab, we will provide you with all further details to successfully present your idea at the Lab.

6. Can I change the Lab location after having submitted my application?

Yes. If a new Lab location closer to your current place of residence is announced after you have already submitted your application for another Lab, we can move your application to a different Lab - Just send an email to lab@falling-walls.com and let us know to which Lab you would like to have your application moved. Please be aware that in this case, both calls for application, the one for the Lab you originally applied to and the one for the Lab you want to be moved to, still have to be open.  

7. Are there any costs for participating?

After applying, selected participants will be invited to join the Falling Walls Lab. There are no costs/fees for participating.

If you apply for an international Falling Walls Lab and you do not live near your selected Lab location, you will have to make your own arrangements for travel and accommodation. The Falling Walls Foundation and international Lab organisers cannot cover any of your costs.

The winners of each international Falling Walls Lab qualify for the Falling Walls Lab Finale on 8 November in Berlin. The hosting institutions for each Lab will cover your travel expenses to and from Berlin. A scholarship will cover your accommodation expenses at our partner hotel from 8 to 9 November and a ticket to the Falling Walls Conference on 9 November.

In certain cases, international Lab organisers may cover the travel expenses to their Lab. Please get in touch with the organisers of your Lab for more information.

8. What does a day at the Lab look like?

All Falling Walls Labs start with a short welcome and introduction speech. The moderator introduces the jury members and addresses the participants with a final briefing on the schedule of events.

The presentations take place in a particular order indicated on a list handed out to all candidates at the beginning of the event. Each presenter has three minutes to deliver their innovative idea to the audience and jury. The presenters can visualise their concepts using a PowerPoint template provided by the organisers. After each presentation, the audience may ask questions and make comments. When time runs out, the next presenter takes over the podium.

After the last session, the jury evaluates the presentations and announces the winner. The Lab concludes with a reception and the opportunity for further discussion and networking. 

The Falling Walls Lab in Berlin will be held in English. International Falling Walls Labs may allow English and their local language. Please contact the international Lab organisers for more information regarding the local Labs.

9. I don’t have a breakthrough yet. Can I participate anyway?

Our understanding of a breakthrough is an idea, a research project, a business model, or a social initiative, which is at the same time original and new, innovative (overcoming old ideas and concepts), and relevant to the problems of the world today. This means that your breakthrough could be a project you have already implemented, a research topic you are currently developing, or a business idea yet to be realised.

Our jury members will appreciate authentic presenters with a clear vision and proof of concept.

10. Presenting my idea in 3 minutes sounds impossible. How should that work?

It works! In fact, preparing your 3-minute presentation will provide you with a fresh perspective on your topic. Shaping your idea into a so-called "elevator pitch" can be a challenging restriction, but it also emphasises the most essential parts of your idea: what it is, how it works, and what it can be used for.

Hint: To help visualise your presentation, explain which wall you would like to break down, why it exists, and how you intend to break it.

11. What criteria are used to evaluate the presentations?

The jury uses three criteria to evaluate presentations:

1. Breakthrough factor: How innovative is the proposed idea?

2. Relevance/Impact: How relevant is the idea to the discipline and beyond?  

3. Structure/Performance: How convincing was the presentation?

12. Will there be time to discuss my breakthrough with the jury?

Every participant has 3 minutes to present his/her breakthrough. The jury is permitted to ask questions or make comments during your speech. If you would like to further discuss your idea, several breaks throughout the event allow for deeper discussions.

13. Should I be worried about plagiarism?

The Falling Walls Lab is subject to confidentiality and non-disclosure. You do not have to disclose any "secret" details of your research. It is more important that you explain the problem you are addressing and share the basic concept of your solution. As you will be speaking in front of an interdisciplinary audience, we recommend you to keep the presentation simple and coherent.

14. Can I apply for more than one Falling Walls Lab at a time?

No, you cannot apply for multiple Labs at the same time. However, if you were not selected to participate in a Lab you can apply for another one. Please note, once you participate in a Lab you cannot apply for another one.

The same rule counts for multiple projects: You may only submit one application/idea for one Lab at a time. 


15. I have participated in a Lab before. Can I apply again?

No. Once you have presented at a Falling Walls Lab you are not permitted to apply again.

16. May I attend a Lab as an audience member?

Should you be interested in attending an international Lab as an audience member, please contact the international Lab organisers. Their contact details can be found on our website: http://www.falling-walls.com/lab/locations.

If you would like to attend the Falling Walls Lab Finale and the Falling Walls Conference as an audience member, you can purchase a ticket on our website as well: http://www.falling-walls.com/registration.

17. Who do I contact regarding questions about the Falling Walls Lab?

The Falling Walls Lab team is happy to answer your questions via lab@falling-walls.com.

Questions regarding specific international Labs should be addressed to the local Lab organisers. You can find their contact information on our website: http://www.falling-walls.com/lab/locations.

18. Can I attend the Falling Walls Lab as a media representative?

For press/media inquiries, please contact us:

Falling Walls Foundation gGmbH
Kochstr. 6-7
10969 Berlin

Tel.: +49 30 609 88 39 70