Falling Walls Lab Australia

The call for applications are currently closed


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.

Each year, the 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. Participants are given three minutes to present their research work, business model or initiative to a broad audience from science and industry, including a distinguished jury who selects the most innovative and promising idea.

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. 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.


Applications for Falling Walls Lab 2020 are now closed.

Watch this space for Falling Walls Lab Australia 2021.

Up to ten selected presenters will be invited to participate in the challenge, each giving a three-minute presentation on their research, business model or initiative based on the concept ‘Which walls will fall next?’. The top three ranked presenters of the Lab will receive $1,000 prize money each and will also receive a professional video created by the Academy’s own production team. The video will feature the winner’s idea for the next wall to fall in science. It will be shared with the influential audience of judges and participants of Falling Walls Berlin and on the Academy’s social media platforms to over 2.4 million followers.

Falling Walls Lab Australia will be held on 8 September 2020 and for the first time, this event will be in a virtual format. The specifics of the platform are yet to be confirmed and further information will be provided at a later date. A jury of distinguished academics and businesspeople will select the winner of Falling Walls Lab Australia 2020.

A Lab will also be held in Queensland on August 6, hosted by Study Queensland, for applicants within that state. The finalists for this Lab will be automatically accepted into the Canberra Lab to compete for the prizes. 

Falling Walls Conference has changed format for 2020 and is now Falling Walls Remote 2020: The Breakthroughs of the Year. It will shift from a series of meetings and one conference with a limited number of speakers and topics to a global showcase that gathers, celebrates and discusses a much broader set of breakthroughs in science and society – The Falling Walls Breakthroughs of the Year. In place of the traditional Lab finale, winners of the international Falling Walls Labs will have their pitch video shared on the Falling Walls social platforms. From these videos, a panel of judges will decide on 10 finalists who will take part in the digital live event Emerging Talents Category Day (4 November 2020).

One presenter will then be awarded the Breakthrough Winner of the Year title in the Emerging Talents category. The winner will be able to pitch their breakthrough project along with nine other luminaries on the grand stage of the digital live event Falling Walls Day (9 November 2020) in front of an audience of industry leaders, decision-makers, investors, and international media representatives.

More information on this opportunity.

Fields of research

Candidates should be research active in any field of the natural sciences, including technology, engineering and medicine, or social sciences and the humanities.


The candidate must:

  • not be a previous presenter at any Falling Walls Lab
  • be an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident or hold a valid Australian student or working visa
  • be based in Australia at the time of application and at the time of the Falling Walls events in Canberra and Berlin
  • be 18 years of age or over
  • hold a passport valid for travel up until April 2021
  • You must fulfil at least one of the following formal requirements:
    • you are currently enrolled in university and/or are currently a postdoc
    • you received a Bachelor’s degree no more than 10 years before the date of application
    • you received a Master’s degree no more than 7 years before the date of application
    • you received a PhD no more than 5 years before the date of application.

*An MD (medical degree excl. a doctoral dissertation) is considered equivalent to a Master’s degree. A Dr. med. (medical degree incl. a doctoral dissertation) is considered equivalent to a PhD.

Important notices

Applications will be considered carefully by an evaluation panel with diverse expertise convened by the Australian Academy of Science. The decision of the panel is based on the assessed competitiveness of the proposal.

The Academy is not able to enter into discussion or correspondence regarding the reasons why an application is or isn’t successful.

For further information contact

International Programs
Australian Academy of Science
GPO Box 783
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6201 9412
Email: fallingwalls@science.org.au

Past Australian finalists

The following researchers were named winners of the Falling Walls Lab Australia and participated in the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin.

2020 winners

Name Organisation
Dr Jessica Hamilton ANSTO
Mr Alan Robertson ClearSky Genomics
Mr Andrew Law Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Dr Dashen Dong (People's Choice award) RMIT

Find out more about the 2020 winners

2019 winners

Name Organisation
Dr Elena Schneider-Futschik University of Melbourne
Ms Kate Secombe University of Adelaide
Mr Rhys Pirie University of Queensland

Rhys Pirie was named 2019 Young Innovator of the Year at the Falling Walls Lab Berlin Finale. Rhys is the first Australian to win the global Lab. Find out more about the 2019 Falling Walls Berlin Finale here.

Find out more about the 2019 winners

2018 winners

Name Organisation
Ms Samantha Wade University of Wollongong
Ms Hayley Teasdale University of Canberra

Find out more about the 2018 winners

2017 winners

Name Organisation
Dr Mortaza Rezae Curtin University
Dr Vini Gautam The Australian National University

Find out more about the 2017 winners

2016 winners

Name Organisation
Dr Kim van Netten The University of Newcastle

Find out more about the 2016 winners

© 2021 Australian Academy of Science