Applicant FAQ

You have questions regarding applying to or participating in a Falling Walls Lab?
Find answers to common application questions and competition information in the applicant FAQ.

What is Falling Walls Lab?

Three minutes is all it takes! Falling Walls Lab is a world-class pitch competition, networking forum, and stepping stone that brings together a diverse and interdisciplinary pool of students and early-career professionals by providing a stage for breakthrough ideas both globally and locally. Our multifaceted formats support our participants in driving their innovations and develop their communication skills, fostering collaboration and creating a space for our impactful and sustainable community to thrive.

Throughout the year, renowned academic institutions around the world host international Falling Walls Labs to showcase the quality, diversity, and passion of their region’s most innovative minds. In three minutes each, participants are given the opportunity to present their solutions to some of the most pressing challenges of our time to peers, a high-calibre jury of experts from academia and business, and the general public.

The winner of each international Lab qualifies for the global finale in Berlin on 7 November, wins a ticket to attend the Falling Walls Science Summit, and takes part in an exclusive extended programme during their stay. At the global finale, the international Lab winners compete to become the Breakthrough Winner in the Emerging Talents category of Falling Walls, taking home the title and prize money, and receiving the opportunity to pitch their idea once again on the grand stage of the Falling Walls Breakthroughs of the Year.

Who is eligible?

Falling Walls Lab aims to reach a broad range of people from all professional backgrounds at the beginning of their careers. We are looking for university students and early-career professionals of all disciplines. Our aim is to provide our target demographic with a platform where they can present their innovative ideas and connect with fellow researchers and entrepreneurs from various fields. In order to pinpoint and reach these early-career innovators, we needed to develop a mechanism. We introduced our eligibility criteria to help us reach our target group and provide a level playing field for all participants.

Eligibility Criteria
You must be 18 years or older when submitting your application. There is no upper age limit for applicants.

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 ago
  • You received a Master’s degree no more than 7 years ago
  • You received a PhD no more than 5 years ago

*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.

Please note, no exceptions are allowed which limit the participation to students and staff of one university or to specific degrees (e.g. PhD students only).

What is the event language?

All Falling Walls Labs are held in English. Pitches must therefore also be held in English.

Can groups apply?

Group applications are not permitted, since individual factors such as grades are important parts of the evaluation process. Therefore, only individuals are allowed to apply to and present at a Falling Walls Lab. If you are a member of a group project, please select a group representative to submit an application. It is important that they clearly highlight their individual contribution to the group project in their application and presentation.

Why apply?

There are many reasons to apply. Falling Walls Lab gives participants the opportunity to:

  • share their research and ideas with other individuals dedicated to innovation
  • become a part of a global community breaking down walls in science and society
  • network and find new ways to collaborate with peers
  • win a trip (travel & accommodation included) to the global finale in Berlin, Germany, including a ticket to the Falling Walls Science Summit. Breakthrough Winners additionally receive a cash prize and get to present their winning pitch on the grand stage of the Falling Walls Breakthroughs of the Year

What is the application process like?

Applications can be submitted via our website and should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete.

To submit an application, please select the Lab for which you would like to apply. Please note that we cannot cover any travel/accommodation costs to international Labs, so it should be the Lab that is located closest to you.

Proceed by filling in all requested information and be prepared to upload your CV in PDF format. Once you agree to the Terms & Conditions and submit your application, a window will appear confirming your successful submission, and a confirmation email will be sent to your email address.

After the respective application deadline passes, a committee will make its selection. They will then contact all applicants to let them know about the outcome of their application. Should you be selected to participate in a Lab, the local organisers will provide you with further details on the next steps.

Can I submit multiple applications?

No, you may not submit multiple applications. Please choose the Lab that is located closest to you and submit the project that you would most like to present.

Can I apply to multiple locations?

No, you may not apply to multiple locations at once. Please choose the Lab that is located closest to you and submit an application for that Lab. If you are not selected to participate at that Lab, please feel free to submit an application for another Lab that is accessible to you.

I don’t have a breakthrough yet. Can I apply anyway?

Our understanding of a breakthrough is an idea, a research project, a business model, or a social initiative, which is at the same time original/new, innovative (overcoming old ideas and concepts), and relevant to the problems of the world today. This means that your breakthrough could be a project you have already implemented, a research topic you are currently developing, or a business idea yet to be realised. Our jury members appreciate authentic presenters with a clear vision and proof of concept.

Are there any costs?

There are no costs/fees involved in participating in a Falling Walls Lab. Please note, however, that the Falling Walls Foundation and our international Lab organisers cannot cover the costs of travel/accommodation for international Labs.

What are the evaluation criteria?

The jury uses three criteria to evaluate presentations:

  1. Breakthrough factor (50%): How innovative is the proposed idea?
  2. Relevance/Impact (40%): How relevant is the idea to the discipline and beyond?
  3. Structure/Performance (10%): How convincing was the presentation?

What about plagiarism?

During their three-minute pitch, participants are not obligated to divulge proprietary information. Instead, the emphasis should be on articulating the problem being addressed and outlining the fundamental concept of the proposed solution. Given the public nature of Lab events, participants are advised to disclose only information they are comfortable sharing with the wider audience.

Can I reapply after having participated?

Participating in a Falling Walls Lab is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As such, once you take part in an international Lab, you are no longer eligible to apply for a future Lab. If this is the case, we recommend you consider taking part in a different Falling Walls format, such as Falling Walls Venture (for start-ups) or Falling Walls Engage (for science engagement projects).

My question is not listed here. What should I do?

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