Young scientists and entrepreneurs showcase excellent research projects, social initiatives and business ideas

Innovative breakthrough in ecofarming – neutralizing toxines in cow dung – wins international science contest / Presentation at the Falling Walls Conference on 9 November 2012


Berlin, 9 November 2012. One day before the annual international science conference Falling Walls, 100 junior scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators from 38 nations presented their research projects, ideas and initiatives in Berlin. The speakers addressed a wide range of topics, which tackle scientific and societal challenges of the present.

The jury declared the Swiss farmer and scientist Thomas Rippel of „Organic Standard“ the winner of the Falling Walls Lab Finale 2012 in Berlin. Rippel was also voted winner of the Audience Award. In his talk, he explained how cow dung  (manure) – which is a rich natural fertilizer, but also produces large amounts of toxic gases – can be neutralized in an eco-friendly and highly efficient way. By adding Sauerkraut juice, a by-product of food production, Rippel’s method stops the fouling processes in manure, thus stabilizing the nutrient matters and enriching the mould. Thomas Rippel studied economics and is currently enrolled in an agricultural training programme at the Swiss Demeter Verband. The jury was particularly impressed by Rippel’s extraordinary approach, connecting scientific theory and farming practice, as well as his passionate and authentic presentation.

The jury awarded the second prize to Quirin Kainz, a PhD candidate in organic chemistry at the University of Regensburg. In his 3-minute talk, Kainz demonstrated a fully developed method for cleaning and recycling chemical products. The current solutions for synthesizing pharmaceutics heavily depend on toxic catalysers. These elements need to be isolated in chemical processes, which are costly and energy-intensive. Based on highly magnetic nano particles, Kainz and his colleagues discovered an easier and more sustainable process, which create new possibilities for chemistry and pharmaceutical industries.

The third prize was awarded to Mai-Thi Nguyen-Kim, a nanomedicine researcher at RWTH Aachen University. Nguyen-Kim’s presentation focused on the latest breakthroughs in cancer research: Nano transporters breaking through the outer walls of cells in order to efficiently channel medical agents to the inside. As it attacks only cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed, this method will form one of the basic elements of cancer treatment in the near future.

The jury members, as well as the audience, were impressed by the speakers’ high professionalism and creativity. Jury members spoke of an “innovative platform” and “a must” for any ambitious junior scientist. The 100 international talents presented insights from research – health sciences, the humanities and social sciences, engineering, economics and natural sciences – as well as entrepreneurship ideas, social initiatives and environmental projects. “The visionary ideas we heard today exceeded all our expectations”, said Dr. Martin Sonnenschein, jury member and Managing Director Central Europe of A.T. Kearney. “Tomorrow’s changemakers presented ideas of the future, which can be applied in the present.”


About Falling Walls Lab

The Falling Walls Lab was launched in 2011 as a cooperation project between the Falling Walls Foundation and the global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney. After a successful kick-off, the challenging, fast-paced format was subsequently brought to a number of international cities like Johannesburg (South Africa), São Paulo (Brazil), Zurich (Switzerland) and Vienna (Austria). At the Falling Walls Lab, excellent academics, entrepreneurs and professionals from all disciplines get the opportunity to share their research work, business ideas or initiatives with peers and a distinguished jury from academia and business – in 3 minutes. The aim of the Falling Walls Lab is to connect young talents worldwide and foster professional exchange and networks between the disciplines.

A total number of 600 international researchers and professionals had applied for the 2012 series of the Falling Walls Labs. The best applications were selected by a jury from academia, science policy, and business. The jury was chaired by Prof. Dr. Reinhard F. Hüttl, President of acatech – German Academy of Science and Engineering. High-resolution photos of the Lab are available for download at:


The winners of the Falling Walls Lab 2012 Berlin at a glance

1. place winner and Audience Award winner (1000 Euro and iPad): Thomas Rippel, Switzerland: „Breaking the Wall of Sustainable Farming“, „The Organic Standard“

2. place winner (750 Euro): Quirin Kainz, Germany: „Breaking the Wall of Contamination“, University of Regensburg

3. place winner (500 Euro): Mai-Thi Nguyen-Kim, Germany: „Breaking the Wall of Human Cell“, RWTH Aachen University


Press contact

Doreen Rietentiet
Falling Walls Foundation
Chausseestraße 8E
D- 10115 Berlin

Tel: +49 30 609 88 39 74

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