Falling Walls Lab Australia

The call for applications are currently open

Closing date

July 06 2020 - 5:00 PM AEST


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 Wall 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 Australian Academy of Science invites applications from researchers living and working in Australia who are postdocs and students, entrepreneurs, engineers and innovators from all areas to attend Australia’s Falling Walls Lab in 2020.

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.

Twenty 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?’. Presentation templates and further instructions will be provided to successful applicants.

A Lab will also be held in Queensland in August, 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 a place in the Berlin Finale. The call for applications for the Queensland Lab will open in the coming weeks and information on this will be updated when available.

More information on this opportunity.

A jury of distinguished academics and businesspeople will select the winner of Falling Walls Lab Australia 2020. The winner will be automatically admitted to the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, which will be held on 8 November 2020.

The format of the finale will depend on social distancing measures in place at the time due to COVID-19, but it is envisaged that this event will be a virtual Lab. The Falling Walls Foundation has issued a press release confirming the dates will remain set for the Falling Walls events in 2020.

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.


(Note this is a two-stage process)

  1. Complete the Academy’s application webform and attach the following:
  2. Go to Falling Walls Lab website.
    • Click on Falling Walls Lab Australia.
    • Complete the Falling Walls Lab online form and attach your curriculum vitae.
    • Follow the links to submit the form and CV to the Falling Walls Lab.

Only complete and eligible applications submitted via the Falling Walls Lab website will be forwarded to the Academy for assessment by an evaluation panel.

DEADLINE: 5 pm (AEST) Monday 6 July 2020.

Notification of outcome: mid-August

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.

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

© 2020 Australian Academy of Science