the 10 categories and their respective selection criteria

Categories 1-4: Top-class researchers globally are pushing the boundaries to make some of the most important scientific breakthroughs of our times. We are looking for internationally recognised, established academics and leaders in their respective fields (as outlined below), whose groundbreaking work contributes towards solving the world’s biggest challenges. As excellent communicators they are able to transmit their passion and the significance of their findings for society.

Category 1: Life Sciences

The scientific study of life and organisms (e.g. biology, neuroscience, zoology)

Criteria:

  • The title of ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ can be awarded to individual scientists as well as research groups in all scientific fields
  • Researchers of outstanding quality will be selected who have made excellent, ground-breaking achievements in their respective fields, nationally and internationally, and who stand out for their innovative strength
  • Scientists who promise to have a significant long-term impact on the research landscape and to contribute towards solving global challenges, such as having a positive effect on nature and mankind, in line with the SDGs
  • Researchers who translate scientific topics and their complexities in a way that makes them accessible and attractive to large sections of society
  • Nominations will be considered and evaluated within the relevant categories, but their potential for interdisciplinary problem-solving will also be assessed

 

Category 2: Physical Sciences

The observation and understanding of natural phenomena of the earth, atmosphere and space (e.g. chemistry, physics, astronomy)

Criteria:

  • The title of ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ can be awarded to individual scientists as well as research groups in all scientific fields
  • Researchers of outstanding quality will be selected who have made excellent, ground-breaking achievements in their respective fields, nationally and internationally, and who stand out for their innovative strength
  • Scientists who promise to have a significant long-term impact on the research landscape and to contribute towards solving global challenges, such as having a positive effect on nature and mankind, in line with the SDGs
  • Researchers who translate scientific topics and their complexities in a way that makes them accessible and attractive to large sections of society
  • Nominations will be considered and evaluated within the relevant categories, but their potential for interdisciplinary problem-solving will also be assessed

 

Category 3: Engineering and Technology

The practical application of science and mathematics to every-day life (e.g. artificial intelligence, information technology, mechanical engineering)

Criteria:

  • The title of ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ can be awarded to individual scientists as well as research groups in all scientific fields
  • Researchers of outstanding quality will be selected who have made excellent, ground-breaking achievements in their respective fields, nationally and internationally, and who stand out for their innovative strength
  • Scientists who promise to have a significant long-term impact on the research landscape and to contribute towards solving global challenges, such as having a positive effect on nature and mankind, in line with the SDGs
  • Researchers who translate scientific topics and their complexities in a way that makes them accessible and attractive to large sections of society
  • Nominations will be considered and evaluated within the relevant categories, but their potential for interdisciplinary problem-solving will also be assessed

 

Category 4: Social Sciences and Humanities

The institutions and functioning of human society and the interpersonal relationships of individuals as members of society, (e.g. politics, economics, philosophy)

Criteria:

  • The title of ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ can be awarded to individual scientists as well as research groups in all scientific fields
  • Researchers of outstanding quality will be selected who have made excellent, ground-breaking achievements in their respective fields, nationally and internationally, and who stand out for their innovative strength
  • Scientists who promise to have a significant long-term impact on the research landscape and to contribute towards solving global challenges, such as having a positive effect on nature and mankind, in line with the SDGs
  • Researchers who translate scientific topics and their complexities in a way that makes them accessible and attractive to large sections of society
  • Nominations will be considered and evaluated within the relevant categories, but their potential for interdisciplinary problem-solving will also be assessed

 

Category 5: Science in the Arts

We welcome nominations for artists whose work is inspired and influenced by science across a wide range of subjects (from the humanities to life sciences, technology and more), which sheds light on societal issues, natural phenomena or simply the wonder of scientific discoveries, and which highlights the unique relationship between these apparently opposite but often highly complementary disciplines.

Criteria:

  • International contemporary artists, collectives and projects that reflect, present, convey or process current phenomena, developments and discoveries in all scientific disciplines, or which present them in artistic forms
  • Artists and works that address global social challenges via scientific references, methods or practices
  • Artists and works that set new standards in this field and display a high degree of innovation and creativity

 

Category 6: Digital Education

Digital learning has become increasingly relevant in the last ten years – and the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated this development. There is hardly a field in which there is such a strong need for building knowledge on best practice so as to be able to assess and improve one’s own activities. We are looking for innovative players in digital education, who improve learning through their exceptional concepts and examples of digital teaching which – as outlined in the White Paper Bologna Digital 2020 – leverages a vision of flexible, accessible, networked, egalitarian, transferable, individualised higher education.

Criteria:

  • Best practice examples of outstanding digital (including blended) university teaching as well as educational offers from private providers in higher education
  • Proven solution-oriented educational approach with reference to global challenges, e.g. access to education, social and international mobility, digital skills, future skills, Sustainable Development Goals, informal learning, lifelong learning

 

Category 7: Science and Innovation Management

Excellent management provides the essential grounds for breakthroughs in science and corporate research. Which instruments are particularly helpful to increase the quality and output of research and development? We are looking for outstanding representatives and best-case examples of science and innovation management both in the realms of academia and research-driven companies that contribute towards better research and relationships in research through new concepts and measures.

Criteria:

  • International best-case examples in science and corporate research, which embody outstanding new approaches to innovation management
  • These relevant well-documented cases demonstrate a process that has led to successful results and increased performance – with the aim of improving or maintaining the ability to innovate,
  • These case studies highlight how successful innovation management can serve as a basis for breakthroughs in science and corporate research and represent good examples which can ideally be transmitted and adapted in other fields

 

Category 8: Emerging Talents (Falling Walls Lab)

In a time when effective science communication has become all the more paramount, Falling Walls Lab is searching for the next generation of early-career innovators, trailblazers, creators, and visionaries of all disciplines to promote their exceptional ideas that create a positive impact on science and society.

Criteria:

  • international early-career scientists and innovators from all disciplines
  • demonstrated new solutions, research projects or initiatives
  • Participants are enrolled at a university, as a student (BA, MA), doctoral student or Postdoc, or in equivalent forms
  • The selection focuses on the extent to which ideas or works presented integrate outstanding new developments, excellent scientific work, originality and communication skills

 

Category 9: Science-based Start-ups (Falling Walls Venture)

Solving some of today’s most pressing challenges requires scientific findings to be turned into entrepreneurial solutions. We are, hence, looking for innovative start-ups that have translated breakthrough scientific thinking into promising business models.

Criteria:

  • Open to entrepreneurs and scientists whose start-ups are based on scientific research.
  • Applications are open to all scientific disciplines.
  • Each start-up must be endorsed by a nominating institution. This can be a university or a research institution.
  • The company must be founded by the time of nomination and cannot be older than 5 years
  • Start-ups should at least have a protoype/proof of concept and should already have received some funding

 

Category 10: Science Engagement Initiatives (Falling Walls Engage)

We are searching for all forms of science engagement and outreach projects that break the wall between science and society with a creative and individual method, to engage the respective target group.

Criteria:

  • International science engagement projects and initiatives that promote dialogue and exchange between research and the (broader) public,
  • All forms of science engagement with a creative and individual method to engage the respective target group
  • Exemplary initiatives from all over the world with a transferrable and/or scalable approach
  • Initiatives with measurable outcome of its activities on its target group in its region
  • Projects and initiatives must be in the active implementation stage; basic ideas or project concepts are not accepted

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