FAQ for scholars

1. What is the Falling Walls Lab?

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. With the slogan “Share Your Idea!” the Falling Walls Lab offers hundreds emerging talents, entrepreneurs and innovators a stage to pitch their research work, initiatives or business models to their peers and a distinguished jury from academia and business.

In 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 innovators receive the opportunity to present their work in front of a distinguished jury and attend the Falling Walls Conference on 9 November where they meet the world’s top scientists. The three winners of the Berlin Lab will get the chance to present their ideas once more 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 an 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 on the next day - together with some of the most distinguished scientists of our times.

3. Who can apply for the Falling Walls Lab?

The Falling Walls Lab addresses a broad range of people from all professional backgrounds and disciplines.

We are looking for:

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

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

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

The selection criteria are as follow:

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.

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, as 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?

In order to apply you have to visit our website at: falling-walls.com/apply and follow the steps in the online application form. We ask you to first 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. You should also have your CV ready in a PDF format – we will ask you to upload it. Filling in the application form should not take longer than 10 minutes. As soon as you successfully finished your application, you will get a notification in your browser window and via email.

After the respective deadline has ended, a committee will make a pre-selection of candidates and we will get back to you within two weeks. If you are selected as one of the participants, we will then give you all the further details for your presentation at the Falling Walls Lab.

6. Can I change the Lab location after I have already applied?

Yes. If a new Lab location closer to your place of residence is announced after you have already submitted your application for another Lab, we can edit the location for you. Just send us a message to let us know. Please be aware that in this case, both calls for application, the one for the Lab you originally applied for and the one for the Lab you want to change to, still have to be open.  

7. Are there any costs for participating?

After applying, the 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 don't live near the city you selected, 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 cover your travel epenses to 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 particular 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.

Participant selected for the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin that have applied directly and have not taken part in an international Falling Walls Lab will have to cover their own travel expenses. The accommodation from 8 to 9 November at our partner hotel will be covered.

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

After the last session, the jury evaluates the presentations and announces the winners. The day will be concluded 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 on this.

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

By breakthrough we understand an idea, a research project, a business model or 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 already realised, a research topic you are developing or a business idea yet to be built up. Our jury members will appreciate authentic presenters with a vision and proof of concept.

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

You will find out that it works – and preparing your 3-minute presentation will provide you with a new perspective on the topics you are working with. Having to shape your topic into a so-called “elevator pitch” is a challenging restriction on the one hand – but it also emphasises what is most essential about the idea: What it is, how it works and what it can be used for.

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

11. By which criteria does the jury evaluate the presentations?

The jury looks at three different criteria: The “breakthrough factor” indicates if an idea is a real innovation, if it is original and catchy and has the potential to inspire other ideas. Secondly, they will look at the relevance and the scope of impact of your work. Does it make a valuable contribution to progress; does it address an existing or imminent problem or even offer solutions to it?  The third category is related to the presenter and presentation itself: Did the participants deliver their presentations well? Did they explain their ideas in a clear and understandable way? Does the presenter show a proof of concept?

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

Every participant at the Falling Walls Lab has 3 minutes time to present her/his breakthrough. The jury is allowed to ask questions or to make comments during your speech. If you would like to further discuss your idea, research work or business idea, several breaks allow 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 idea 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 the same 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. In the case that you have already participated in one Lab you cannot apply for another one.

The same goes for multiple projects you might have in your pipeline: you may only submit one application/idea for one Lab at a time. 


15. I have participated in an international Lab and/ or in the Falling Walls Lab Finale. Can I apply again?

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

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

The international Labs are organised by academic partner institutions. The possibility to attend the Lab as an observer varies from Lab to Lab. We suggest you to get in touch with the international Lab organisers. You will find all contact details of international Labs at falling-walls.com/lab/programme.

In case you would like to attend the Falling Walls Lab Finale and the Falling Walls Conference on 8/9 November in Berlin, we offer you to buy a ticket at falling-walls.com/registration.

17. Who do I contact in case I have a question about the Falling Walls Lab?

You can contact the Falling Walls Lab Team in Berlin at lab@falling-walls.com.

If you have a question related to a specific international Lab we ask you to get in touch with them directly. You will find their email contacts at falling-walls.com/lab/programme.

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

If you are a press/media representative and would like to attend one of the Falling Walls Labs, you are welcome to contact us:


Falling Walls Lab
Chausseestraße 8E
D-10115 Berlin

Tel.: +49 30 609 88 39 76