Falling Walls Young Innovators of the Year 2015: a device that prevents pre-term birth, a blood test for detecting prostate cancer and an innovative regenerative energy concept were selected as the best ideas.


Berlin, 9 November 2015. One hundred young scientists, young entrepreneurs and innovators from 44 nations each had three minutes to present their research projects, ideas and initiatives for tackling societal challenges yesterday at the finals of the Falling Walls Lab in Berlin.

Dr Sabrina Badir from ETH Zurich was the jury’s choice and winner of the Falling Walls Lab 2015 with the development of a reliable and easy-to-use device that allows the risk of premature birth to be recognized in time so that appropriate treatments can be started promptly.

Second prize went to Dr Lian Willetts from the University of Alberta. She presented a method through which prostate cancer can be diagnosed from a drop of blood. Lian and her team are developing a blood test that predicts the probability of metastases based on a motility indicator.

In third place was the Israeli Shani Elitzur from Technion for her innovative renewable energy concept. Her research focuses on safer and more demand-based hydrogen production, which offers potential for storing electrical energy from aluminium-water reactions.

The audience winner was the smart PiPillow by Ukrainian Oleksandr Shymanko. This innovative pillow measures sleep quality and health values ​​and establishes an activity plan tailored to the individual.

Winners were selected by a top-class jury from science and industry under the leadership of Professor Carl-Henrik Heldin, Chairman of the Nobel Foundation, and Dr Luca Rossi, Partner, Head of Europe, Middle East, and Africa at AT Kearney. ‘Sabrina Badir’s idea won over the jury with its immediate practical applicability,’ said Professor Carl-Henrik Heldin, Chairman of this year’s Falling Walls Lab Jury.

The three winners of the Falling Walls Lab will today present their breakthroughs as ‘Falling Walls Young Innovators of the Year 2015’ in front of around 700 guests at the international Falling Walls Conference.

More than 1,300 young scientists applied for the Falling Walls Lab this year with new initiatives and research projects in the humanities, the social sciences, engineering, economics and the natural sciences. ‘Since its inception in 2011, the Falling Walls Lab has become one of the most important interdisciplinary platforms for top scientists and innovators,’ said Dr Luca Rossi. ‘A.T. Kearney is now supporting the Falling Walls Lab for the fifth year and we are proud that a global network of 500 A.T. Kearney scholars now exists, which, with its ideas, stands for new ways of thinking and breakthroughs.’

Before the finale, 34 international preliminary rounds took place in 28 countries this year, including at Yale University, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia) and the University of Groningen (Netherlands). ‘As a global partner of the Falling Walls Lab, we are pleased with the growing number of international Falling Walls Labs, which enable young talents from around the world to network and exchange across borders and disciplines,’ says Professor Peter Hofmann, Senior Vice President Global Product Development, Festo.


About Falling Walls Lab

The aim of the Falling Walls Lab is to promote scientific and entrepreneurial vision and to initiate and foster exchanges between young researchers and young professionals across disciplines. The Falling Walls Lab is organised by the Falling Walls Foundation with the support of the international management consultancy company AT Kearney (Founding Partner) and Festo (Global Partner).

Press photos from the Lab are available at www.falling-walls.com/lab/gallery.


The winners of the Falling Walls Lab 2015 at a glance

1st prize (€1000): Sabrina Badir, ETH Zürich: Breaking the Wall of Pre‐Term Birth

2nd prize (€750): Lian Willetts, University of Alberta: Breaking the Wall of Prostate Cancer Metastasis

3rd prize (€500): Shani Elitzur, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology: Breaking the Wall of Hydrogen Energy


About the Falling Walls Foundation

The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation that fosters the discussion on research and innovation and promotes the latest scientific findings among a broad audience from all parts of society. It organises the Falling Walls Conference, a unique international gathering of leaders from science, business, politics and the arts. Each year on 9 November, 20 of the world’s leading scientists present their current breakthrough research in 15 minutes each. The Falling Walls Foundation is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Helmholtz Association, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Berlin Senate for Economics, Technology and Research and numerous other acclaimed academic institutions, foundations, and companies. Further information can be found at www.falling-walls.com.


About A.T. Kearney

A.T. Kearney is one of the world’s leading management consultancies for top management and advises globally operating corporations, leading medium-sized businesses and public institutions. With strategic vision and operational implementation excellence, the consulting firm supports its clients in transforming their business and organization. In doing so, A.T. Kearney focuses on growth and innovation, technology and sustainability, and on optimizing company performance through complexity management in global production and supply chains. A.T. Kearney was founded in Chicago in 1926. In 1964 the first office outside the United States opened in Dusseldorf. Today, A.T. Kearney employs approximately 3,500 people in over 40 countries around the world. The company’s client consulting has been climate neutral since 2010. More information can be found at www.atkearney.com.


About Festo

Festo AG is both a global player and an independent family business headquartered in Esslingen am Neckar. The company supplies pneumatic and electrical automation technology to 300,000 customers active in factory and process automation in over 200 sectors. The company’s products and services are available in 176 countries across the globe. In 2014, approximately 17,800 employees in 61 subsidiaries generated sales of around €2.45 billion worldwide. Of this, more than 7% is annually invested in research and development. The share of turnover invested in training and professional development is 1.5%. However, learning opportunities are not limited to employees: Festo Didactic GmbH also brings automation technology closer to customers, students and trainees in industrial training and professional development programmes. Further information can be found at www.festo.com.


Press contact

Lucie Menz
Press and Communication
Falling Walls Foundation gGmbH
Chausseestraße 8e
D-10115 Berlin

phone: +49 30 609 88 39 74

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