FAQ for hosting institutions

1. What is the Falling Walls Lab?

The Falling Walls Lab is an interdisciplinary forum for aspiring scientists and professionals from around the world. It is part of the annual, internationally renowned conference for breakthroughs in science and society, the Falling Walls Conference. The Falling Walls Lab offers hundreds of emerging talents, entrepreneurs, and innovators a stage to pitch their research work, initiatives, or business models to their peers, a distinguished jury from academia and business, and the general public.

Over the course of the year, international Falling Walls Labs are organised by academic institutions throughout the world. The winners of each international Lab travel to the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, which takes place every year on 8 November. At the Berlin Lab, 100 Finalists receive the opportunity to present their work in front of a distinguished jury and attend the Falling Walls Conference on 9 November, where they get to meet the world’s top scientists. The three winners of the Berlin Lab are additionally given the chance to present their ideas the next day on the grand stage of the Falling Walls Conference to an international audience.

2. Why should we host an international Falling Walls Lab?

First and foremost, the Falling Walls Lab is a platform for the most outstanding and innovative research work and ideas of your students.

The Falling Walls Lab is a great:

  • networking event - get in touch with local talents from diverse academic backgrounds, strengthen the link to the regional (scientific) network
  • recruiting event - see outstanding academics present their innovative ideas
  • marketing event - enlarge the visibility and brand awareness of your institution and your partners.


3. Who can apply for the Falling Walls Lab?

Dedicated to science communication, the Falling Walls Lab addresses a broad range of people from all professional backgrounds and disciplines at the beginning of their careers. 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.

We are looking for:

  • Scholars, researchers, and scientists (BA-students, MA-students, PhD-/ doctoral candidates, and Postdocs)

  • Entrepreneurs, engineers, and young professionals (Start-ups, inventions, initiatives, and business ideas)

  • Innovators from all areas – science, the humanities, arts, business, and technology

Selection criteria:

If a person has a Bachelor’s degree, the degree should not date back more than 10 years.
If a person has a Master’s degree, the degree should not date back more than 7 years.
If a person has a PhD, the degree should not date back more than 5 years.

Postdocs and students currently enrolled in university are also eligible to apply.

The applicant has to be of legal age (18 years or older) in order to participate in the Falling Walls Lab.

The Falling Walls Foundation will review all incoming applications. Once the application deadline for your Lab has passed, we will send you a final list of applications which will only include eligible applicants.

4. How do early-career researchers apply for our Lab?

All applications are submitted centrally via our online application form: falling-walls.com/lab/apply.

The online application form asks for the following data: contact details, academic career, publications, awards/scholarships, and language skills. Additionally, applicants have to write a statement of motivation and a short abstract of their research work. Applicants must also submit a CV.

The Falling Walls Lab Team will update you weekly on the number of applications you have received for your Lab.

After your deadline passes, you will receive a final list of all your applications to select the participants for your Lab according to predetermined criteria (for more information, please contact us via lab@falling-walls.com).

5. What does a day at the Lab look like?

All Falling Walls Labs start with a short welcome and introduction speech. The moderator introduces the jury members and addresses the participants with a final briefing on the schedule of events.

The presentations take place in a particular order indicated on a list handed out to all candidates at the beginning of the event. Each presenter has three minutes to deliver their innovative idea to the audience and jury. The presenters can visualise their concepts using a PowerPoint template provided by the organisers. After each presentation, the audience may ask questions and make comments. When time runs out, the next presenter takes over the podium.

After the last session, the jury evaluates the presentations and announces the winner. The Lab concludes with a reception and the opportunity for further discussion and networking. 

We recommend your Lab to be held in English. This will make it easier for the winner to present his/her work at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, where the conference language will also be English. You may, however, allow participants to present in the local language of your region as well.

6. What criteria are used to evaluate the presentations?

The jury uses three criteria to evaluate presentations:

1. Breakthrough factor: How innovative is the proposed idea?

2. Relevance/Impact: How relevant is the idea to the discipline and beyond?  

3. Structure/Performance: How convincing was the presentation?

7. Why do some researchers hesitate to apply for the Lab?

Every candidate has different reasons for applying for a Falling Walls Lab or for not wanting to get involved. 

Students are sometimes reluctant to participate out of a fear of public speaking, perceived English language barriers, or extensive course work and a lack of time.

The Falling Walls Lab is designed to be an opportunity for students to develop their public speaking skills in front of an audience from various fields in science, business, and society. It is therefore important to encourage them to apply, since presenting their idea on a Falling Walls Lab stage can be a great opportunity for them to improve their presentation skills.



8. This is the first time we are hosting an international Falling Walls Lab. Where do we start?

Should you be interested in hosting an international Falling Walls Lab, please contact the Falling Walls Lab team (lab@falling-walls.com; +49 30 609 8838 76).

While preparing for the Falling Walls Lab at your hosting institution, we strongly encourage you to discuss human and financial resources and support (e.g. the winner's travel expenses to/from Berlin), as well as promotion and marketing efforts.

We recommend you to secure a date and venue for the Falling Walls Lab with the support of your academic institution. Once the date is set, you will be able to start distributing the call for applications and promote the Falling Walls Lab through various distribution channels and media. You are also welcome to spread the call to universities in other cities or in neighbouring countries close to your Lab to create more buzz.

For more information on the possibility of hosting a Falling Walls Lab at your institution, we recommend that you read our Falling Walls Lab Guidelines, which can be downloaded on our website at http://www.falling-walls.com/lab/launch.

9. What will the Falling Walls Lab cost us?

Our aim is to keep costs as low as possible without compromising the quality of the event. We do not cover any expenses you might have except for the accommodation of your winner for the night of the 8-9 November at our partner hotel, as well as the ticket for the Falling Walls Conference.

Seeing as an academic institution already provides all necessary infrastructure (location, print production budget, etc.) to host a Falling Walls Lab, the only fixed cost you will have is the winner’s travel expenses to/from Berlin and, if necessary, one or two additional nights at the hotel. We therefore welcome you to acquire suitable sponsors for your event to help cover those costs. 

10. Should we provide prizes of a certain value at our Falling Walls Lab?

No, there is no fixed prize value for an international Falling Walls Lab. You are only asked to cover the travel expenses of the winner of your Falling Walls Lab to and from Berlin as a set prize.

At the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, the 1st place winner receives a €1000 prize, the 2nd place winner receives €750, the 3rd place winner receives €500, and the winner of the audience award receives an iPad. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners also receive the opportunity to speak on the grand stage of the Falling Walls Conference the next day in front of an international audience.

11. Do we have to keep a good balance of disciplines at the Lab?

Yes, we recommend that the participants of your international Falling Walls Lab are balanced by both discipline and gender. You should also follow the same approach when selecting the members of your jury.

12. Can we approach sponsors to support the Falling Walls Lab at our academic institution?

Yes, we recommend you to approach partners and potential sponsors to support your event. Please make sure to inform the Falling Walls Lab Team regarding your cooperation partners.

13. Can we change the name of our Lab?

No, please refer to the event as the "Falling Walls Lab" + name of your institution/your city (e.g. Falling Walls Lab UPenn – hosted by the University of Pennsylvania or Falling Walls Lab Leuven - hosted in the city of Leuven).