FAQ for hosting institutions

1. What is the Falling Walls Lab?

The Falling Walls Lab is an interdisciplinary forum for aspiring scientists and professionals from around the world. The Lab is part of the annual held and internationally acclaimed conference for breakthroughs in science and society, the Falling Walls Conference.

With the slogan “Share Your Idea!”, 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 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 the international Labs are travelling 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 with the chance to 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. Why should we host an international Falling Walls Lab?

First and foremost, the Falling Walls Lab is a platform for the most outstanding and innovative research work and ideas of your students.

The Falling Walls Lab will be…

your possibility to get in contact with local talents from diverse academic backgrounds.

your possibility to see outstanding academics present: recruiting event.

your possibility to enlarge the visibility and brand awareness of your institution and your partners: marketing event.

your possibility to strengthen the link to the regional (scientific) network.

3. Who can apply for the Falling Walls Lab?

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

We look for:

  • Scholars, researchers and scientists (Master students, PhD students and post-docs)

  • Entrepreneurs, engineers and young professionals (Start-ups, inventions 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.

Applicants must be of legal age (18 years or older).

The Falling Walls Foundation will review all incoming applications. Once the application deadline for your Lab has passed we will send you a final list of applications which will only include eligible applicants.


4. How do young researchers apply for our Lab?

All applications are submitted centrally via the online application form: falling-walls.com/lab/apply.

The online application form asks for the following data: Contact details, academic career, publications, awards/scholarships and language skills. Additionally applicants have to write a statement of motivation and a short abstract of their research work. Last of all, applicants have to submit a CV.

The Falling Walls Lab Team will update you weekly on the number of applications you have received for your Lab.

After your deadline has passed you will receive a final list of all your applications to select the participants for your Lab according to predetermined criteria (for information on the criteria please contact us at lab@falling-walls.com)

5. 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.

We recommend your Lab to be held in English. This will make it easier for the winner to present his or her work at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, where the conference language will also be English. You may however allow participants to present in the local language of your region as well.

6. By which criteria does the jury evaluate the presentations at the Lab?

The jury looks at three different criteria:

1. 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.

2. The jury needs to look at the relevance and the scope of impact of a presenter's work. Does the idea make a valuable contribution to progress; does it address an existing or imminent problem or even offer solutions for it?

3. Did the participant deliver his or her presentation well? Did he or her explain the idea in a clear and coherent way? Does the presenter display a proof of concept?

7. Why do some researchers hesitate to apply for the Lab?

Every candidate has different reasons for applying for a Falling Walls Lab or for not wanting to get involved. 

Students are sometimes reluctant to participate out of fear of public speaking, perceived English language barriers or extensive course work and therefore a lack of time. The Falling Walls Lab has been designed as an opportunity for students to develop their public speaking skills in front of an audience coming from various fields in science, business and society. It is therefore important to encourage them to give it a try as it can improve their presentation skills!



8. This is the first time we are hosting an international Falling Walls Lab. Where do we start?

If you are interested in hosting an international Falling Walls Lab, please contact the Falling Walls Lab team in Berlin (lab@falling-walls.com; +49 30 609883876).

In the run up to the Falling Walls Lab at your hosting institution, we strongly encourage you to discuss human and financial resources and support (e.g. travel expenses of the winner to Berlin) as well as promotion and marketing efforts.

With the support of your academic institution, we recommend that you secure a date and venue for the Falling Walls Lab. With this date set, you will then be able to start distributing the call for applications and to promote the Falling Walls Lab through various distribution channels and media. You are also welcome to spread the call to universities in other cities or in neighbouring countries close to your Lab to create a larger buzz.

For more information on the organisation of a Falling Walls Lab at your institution, we recommend that you read our Falling Walls Lab Guidelines, which can be downloaded on our website at falling-walls.com/lab/launch

9. What will the Falling Walls Lab cost us?

Our aim is to keep cost as low as possible without compromising the quality of the event. We welcome you to acquire suitable sponsors for your event. We don’t cover any expenses you might have except for the accommodation of your winner for the night of the 8-9 November at our partner hotel as well as the ticket for the Falling Walls Conference.

As an academic institution already provides all of the necessary infrastructure (location, print production budget etc.) to host a Falling Walls Lab, the only fixed cost you would have is the winner’s travel to Berlin and back and, if need be, one or two additional nights at the hotel.

10. Should we provide prizes of a certain value at our Falling Walls Lab?

No, there is no fixed prize value for each international Falling Walls Lab. You are only asked to cover the travel expenses of the winner of your Falling Walls Lab to Berlin as a set prize.

At the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, the 1st place winner receives 1000€, the 2nd place winner receives 750€ and the 3rd place winner receives 500€, while the winner of the audience award receives an iPad. All three winners will also speak on the grand stage of the Falling Walls Conference one day later in front of an international audience.

11. Do we have to keep a good balance of disciplines at the Lab?

Yes, we recommend that the participants of your international Falling Walls Lab are balanced by discipline and gender. You should also follow the same approach when selecting the members of your jury. Please make sure to screen the disciplines when making your selection of participants and jury members.

12. Can we approach sponsors to support the Falling Walls Lab at our academic institution?

Yes, we recommend that you approach your partners and potential sponsors to support your event. Please inform the Falling Walls Lab Team about who you would like to cooperate with.

13. Can we change the name of our Lab?

No, we would ask you to refer to the event as the “Falling Walls Lab” + name of your institution or of your city (i.e. Falling Walls Lab Edinburgh - hosted by the University of Edinburgh or Falling Walls Lab McMaster – hosted by the McMaster University).