Three winning ideas heading to Berlin for Falling Walls Lab 2021

September 01, 2021

Watch the full livestream of Falling Walls Lab Australia 2021 above.


First place winner, Dr Jiao Jiao Li. Photo: supplied
Second place and joint people's choice winner, Chamikara Liyanage. Photo: supplied
Third place and joint people's choice winner, Dr Lockman Norazmi. Photo: supplied

Dr Jiao Jiao Li is the winner of the sixth Falling Walls Lab Australia event, hosted online today by the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canberra and EURAXESS Australia and New Zealand.

The second place winner was Chamikara Liyanage, while Dr Lokman Norazmi took third place.

The People's Choice winner, selected via a survey of audience members, was tied between Chamikara Liyanage and Dr Lokman Norazmi.

The nine contestants presenting at the Australian finale event were selected by the Falling Walls Lab New South Wales, organised by DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service and EURAXESS; the Falling Walls Lab Queensland, organised by the University of Queensland; and the Falling Walls Lab Victoria, organised by veski with support from Deakin University.

In another Falling Walls category, ‘Science Breakthroughs of the Year’, Academy Fellow Professor Thomas Maschmeyer from the University of Sydney, Professor Warwick Bowen from the University of Queensland and Professor Geoffrey Spinks from the University of Wollongong have been selected by Falling Walls 2021 in Berlin as global finalists in the category Engineering and Technology. They will be presenting their breakthroughs at the event in Berlin in November.

The question of every Falling Walls Lab is: Which walls will fall next?

Three-minute pitch

Each participant had three minutes to make their pitch in front of a jury of eminent academics and leaders from business chaired by Australia's Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley.

Dr Jiao Jiao Li of the University of Technology Sydney is developing a new and off-the-shelf, disease specific, stem cell based therapy for osteoarthritis, a next-generation treatment solution that can also be adaptable for other diseases.

Chamikara Liyanage of the Queensland University of Technology introduced a microprotein gene therapy to overcome prostate cancer treatment resistance and a diagnostic immunoassay that early predicts treatment resistance.

Dr Lokman Norazmi of the University of Tasmania established an army of chromosome fish to fight in the war against alien mosquitofish invasion in Australia, thus protecting our unique and diverse aquatic ecosystem.

The people's choice award tied between Dr Lockman Norazmi and Chamikara Liyanage.

Winners to compete internationally

The top three winners will each receive a prize of AUD1,000 and support from the Academy on their online participation at the Berlin Falling Walls Conference. The winners’ videos will be shared with the influential global audience of Falling Walls Berlin and on the Academy’s social media platforms to over 2.4 million followers.

Academy partner EURAXESS will also provide high-quality online science communication training to the three winners led by European experts, including opportunity to have one-on-one consultation with the experts.

The three Australian winners will represent Australia in the hybrid Falling Walls Conference 2021 alongside the other 97 global winners, and the top 10 global finalists will compete in the Falling Walls Pitches on 7 November for their title in the Emerging Talents category.

Jury members

The event organising partners are grateful for the involvement of the jury members for Falling Walls Lab Australia:

  • Dr Cathy Foley AO FAA—Australia’s Chief Scientist
  • Dr Dan Grant—MD and CEO, MTPConnect
  • Ms Kate Hart—Partner ANZ, A.T. Kearney Australia
  • Ms Rosie Hicks—Chief Executive Officer, Australian Research Data Commons
  • Professor Michael Schuetz—Director, Jamieson Trauma Institute
  • Professor John Shine AC PresAA FRS—President, Australian Academy of Science
  • Dr Jack Steele—Director Science Impact and Policy, CSIRO

Read the event program booklet (PDF).


About Falling Walls Lab

Each year, the Falling Walls Foundation supports scientific organisations around the world to host a Falling Walls Lab. This international forum promotes interdisciplinary connections between aspiring academics, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and professionals known for their excellent work.

Falling Walls Lab is a challenging and inspiring format for emerging bright minds, giving them a unique chance to become the next big success story in innovation. Each year, nearly 100 international Labs are held with more than 1000 presenters, 100 of whom make it to the final in Berlin. In 2019, Australian researcher Rhys Pirie took out first place at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin and was named 2019 Young Innovator of the Year. Read more about his success and a follow-up interview six months after winning the competition.

The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation in Berlin dedicated to the support of science and the humanities. It was established in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At its heart is the question ‘Which are the next walls to fall?’ as a result of scientific, technological, economic and sociological breakthroughs.

© 2021 Australian Academy of Science

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