Austrian wins acclaimed young talent competition with his idea on combating infection diseases

Press Conference with the speakers on 9.11.2013 at 13.30 at the Radialsystem


Berlin 9 November 2013. One day before the annual Falling Walls Conference 100 emerging researchers, innovators and young professionals showcased their research work, innovative ideas and initiaves on societal challenges. The winners present their breakthroughs on 9 November 2013 at the Radialsystem in Berlin.

The overall winner, selected by the jury and the audience winner was the Austrian Klemens Wassermann of the Austrian Institute of Technology. He revolutionises infection diagnostics with a simple yet impressive idea on detecting bacteria in blood. He developed an innovative way for specific and rapid pathogen concentration to fundamentally change sensitive and automated pathogen detection at a very low cost. Wassermann would like to finalise his patent with an estimated material price of less than two euros per piece.

The second place was awarded to Tarek Richard Besold of the University of Osnabrück for his research on artificial intelligence. He works on the development of super computers that are capable of composing music that levels the renditions of star composers. With this Besold is attempting to depict that computers have the ability to imitate human creativity with the means of mere primitive building blocks. Besold states that the likes of Goethe and Mozart will emerge in this world, perhaps not made of flesh and blood but of bits and bytes.

The third place was shared by Katerina Spranger of the University of Oxford and John Woodland from South Africa. Spranger impressed the jury with her idea of a new technology to help doctors improve surgical procedures that are tailored to the needs of each individual patient and provide the optimal treatment for cardiovascular diseases.

John Woodland is a biochemist of the University of Cape Town. He presented his research on accelerating the development of more effective and more efficient antimalarial agents. Woodland’s approach lies in the targeted treatment of released haem. It is being produced when the body is affected by Malaria and haemoglobin is destroyed. With the help of fluorides Woodland aspired to depict how much toxic haem gets released, with the idea to develop pointed infection treatment.

According to the jury the Falling Walls Lab has become a must-see event for young scientists. The interdisciplinary forum annually grants a stage for several hundreds of initiatives and interesting research projects from a wide spectrum of scientific fields such as medicine, social science, engineering, economics as well as natural sciences. “The Lab has shown that there are many promising approaches on drug research. We have high hopes that these ideas can establish themselves on the market and improve the treatment of infections significantly. The high level of professionalism and creativity of the Lab scholars was unmatched”, says jury member Martin Sonnenschein, Managing Director Central Europe of A.T. Kearney.


About Falling Walls Lab 

The Falling Walls Lab was initiated by the Falling Walls Foundation in 2011. International Qualifying Labs have been hosted since 2012 in cities such as Moscow, Johannesburg, London, Sao Paulo and Los Angeles. Overall about 600 researchers and young professionals applied from all over the world to take part in the Falling Walls Lab 2013. The Falling Walls Lab is organised by the Falling Walls Foundation, with the support of the international consulting firm A.T. Kearney (Founding Partner) and KWS SAAT (Global Partner 2013), a leading plant-breeding company. Press photos of the Lab are available at


The Winners of the Falling Walls Lab Berlin 2013 at a glance 

1. Place and Audience Award (1000 Euro and iPad): Klemens Wassermann, Austria: “Breaking the Wall of Infection Diagnostics”, Austrian Institute of Technology

2. Place (750 Euro): Tarek R. Besold, Germany: Breaking the Wall of Computational Creativity“, University of Osnabrück

3. Place (500 Euro): John Woodland, South Africa: „Breaking the Wall of Detecting Free Haem in Cell“, University of Cape Town

3. Place (500 Euro): Katerina Spranger, Ukraine/Germany: “Breaking the Wall of Cardiovascular Diseases”, University of Oxford


Press Contact

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

Tel: +49 30 609 88 39 74

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