The winners this year of Australia’s second Falling Walls Lab, Dr Vini Gautam from the Australian National University and Dr Mortaza Rezae from Curtin University, represented Australia at the international event in November. The Berlin event was attended by 100 finalists and winners from the 49 international Falling Walls Labs held during the year.
The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation in Berlin, established in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It asks ‘Which are the next walls to fall?’ as a result of scientific, technological, economic and sociological breakthroughs.
Each year, the foundation supports scientific organisations around the world to host a Falling Walls Lab to promote interdisciplinary connections between aspiring academics, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and professionals. Participants have just three minutes to present their research work, business model or initiative to a broad audience from science and industry, and a jury selects the most innovative and promising idea.
The Australians received support and encouragement while in Berlin from Academy President Professor Andrew Holmes and Emeritus Professor Hans Bachor. Her Excellency Ms Lynette Wood, Australian Ambassador to Germany, also attended the event.
The winner of this year’s international event was Agnes Reiner from the University of Vienna, for her research on novel blood-based biomarkers for early detection of ovarian cancer.
The Falling Walls conference, held the day following the lab, involved world experts presenting on topics including food insecurity, refugee assistance, global security and ocean pollution. Dr Jennifer Lavers from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Science, University of Tasmania, spoke on the accumulation of plastic waste in the oceans.
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