A review of the Science Summit 2021 and general information

The Falling Walls Science Summit is a leading international and interdisciplinary forum. Some of the most important researchers and thinkers of our time gather at Falling Walls to discuss breakthroughs with global leaders in science, politics, business, and the media, answering the core question of the Falling Walls Science Summit: “Which are the next walls to fall in science and society?“

Since its first annual meeting on 9 November 2009, the 20th anniversary of the peaceful fall of the Berlin Wall, the Falling Walls Science Summit has continuously developed into a world forum for science.

Save the date!
The Falling Walls Science Summit takes place annually from 7-9 November.
It is part of the Berlin Science Week.

 

A look back on the Science Summit 2021

THE SCIENCE BREAKTHROUGHS OF THE YEAR 2021

 

The value of breakthrough research has hardly ever been more evident as it is the groundbreaking work of scientists that will allow us to overcome the pandemic. We received more than 1000 nominations from 115 countries in the search of the Science Breakthroughs of the Year in 10 categories.

The distinguished juries chaired by Helga Nowotny, President Emerita of the European Research Council, have elected the Science Breakthroughs of the Year 2021 in the categories Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Social Sciences and Humanities, Art and Science, Future Learning, and Science and Innovation Management.

THE WINNERS 2021

Around 200 Winners across 10 categories were qualifying for the title “Science Breakthrough of the Year”. All researchers show groundbreaking research that aims to bring down the walls in science and society.

The Science Summit 2021 Programme

If you want to have a look at the programme of the Science Summit 2021, please click on the button below to download last year’s programme as PFD.

 

THE THREE DAYS OF THE SCIENCE SUMMIT 

FALLING WALLS PITCHES

7 November
A day of live pitches in the following categories: Emerging Talents (Falling Walls Lab) for the next generation of outstanding innovators. Science Start-Ups (Falling Walls Venture) for the science start-up community. Science Engagement (Falling Walls Engage) for inspiring science engagers.

FALLING WALLS CIRCLE

8 November
Our format to connect science and society. Researchers, policymakers, business leaders, and society discuss the biggest challenges we face and the foresight that scientific breakthroughs can offer.

FALLING WALLS SCIENCE BREAKTHROUGHS OF THE YEAR

9 November

On the anniversary of the historic fall of the Berlin Wall, the Breakthrough Day provides a stage for outstanding research presented in inspiring presentations.

The 10 Categories

THE 10 CATEGORIES

 

To help make the Falling Walls Science Summit the celebration that excellent science deserves, leading academics and academic institutions, universities, research organizations, companies, private and public research centers, academies, research funders, foundations, and individuals are called to nominate the bright minds behind the latest breakthroughs and outstanding science projects in out 10 categories.

Click on the corresponding button to learn more about the individual categories.

Please find detailed information about the selection criteria here.

HOW THE SELECTION PROCESS WORKS

FROM NOMINEE TO BREAKTHROUGH IN FOUR STEPS

 

We are asking leading academics and academic institutions, universities, research organisations, companies, private and public research centres, academies, research funders, foundations, and individuals to nominate the latest breakthroughs in Engineering and Technology. In rare exceptions, direct nominations may be considered.

 

STEP 1 NOMINATION

During the Global Call, leading actors in science and academia worldwide can nominate individual scientists or research groups by submitting a short nomination form via our website. The Nominee will be contacted directly and asked to submit further details.

 

STEP 2 FINALISTS

If Nominees are selected, they will then become a Falling Walls Finalist. All Finalists will be officially announced on our website.

 

STEP 3 WINNERS

Our distinguished juries, chaired by Helga Nowotny, President Emerita of the European Research Council, will select 10 Winners each for the categories Life Science, Physical Science, Engineering & Technology, Social Science & Humanities, Art & Science and Future Learning.

Through the respective pre-selection processes, up to 100 Winners for Emerging Talents (Falling Walls Lab). 25 Winners for Falling Walls Venture, and 20 Winners for Falling Walls Engage.

Each Winner will have the opportunity to feature their winning project in a short video in our content library. A detailed briefing will be provided for this purpose.

 

STEP 4  THE SCIENCE BREAKTHROUGHS OF THE YEAR

The respective juries will select the Science Breakthroughs of the Year from the Winners of each category.

On 9 November, the Breakthroughs of the Year will receive the opportunity to present their work to a global audience on the grand Falling Walls stage in Berlin.

For more information on whether your project qualifies,  please contact us via E-mail.

The selection criteria for the respective categories

The selection criteria for the respective categories

Categories 1-4:

Top-class researchers globally are pushing the boundaries to make some of the most important scientific breakthroughs of our time. In categories 1-4, 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.


Category 1 
Life Sciences

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

Category 2
Physical Sciences

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

Category 3 
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY

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

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)

Selection Criteria

We are looking for individual scientists as well as research groups of outstanding quality who:

  •  have made excellent, ground-breaking, recent achievements in their respective fields, nationally and internationally, and who stand out for their innovative strength;
  • 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 humanity, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • translate scientific topics and their complexities in a way that makes them accessible and attractive to large sections of society.

Category 5
Art and science

We welcome nominations for/from 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.

Selection 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 the intersection of art and science and stand out artistically as well as methodologically

Category 6
FUTURE LEARNING

We are looking for innovative initiatives, that significantly improve learners’ lives through their exceptional concepts and practices. In particular, we are welcoming submissions that redefine the way we learn and educate, that can show off a high impact with their respective target groups, are scalable and replicable, and offer a high degree of accessibility.

Selection Criteria

  • Proposals showcase novel concepts, best-practices, or technologies that contribute towards a better future for learners and educators.
  • Proposals meet requirements of (emerging) evidence for impact and scalability.
  • Proposals can provide evidence for high degrees of accessibility and sustainability.

Category 7
SCIENCE AND INNOVATION MANAGEMENT

Excellent science and innovation management are the processes, structures, and actors that enable groundbreaking innovations within and beyond the field of science. Within this category, breakthroughs represent significant advances, developments, achievements or an increase in (scientific) knowledge that remove barriers to progress in the applicant’s respective fields. We are looking for novel and game changing approaches (concepts, tools, structures, projects.) both in the realms of academia and research-driven companies, but particularly at the interface between the two. 

Selection Criteria

  • Proposals highlight how successful science and innovation management can serve as a basis for breakthroughs in science and corporate research.
  • Proposals can demonstrate high-impact research findings and/or increased performance as a direct result of efforts to maintaining, improving, or expanding the ability to innovate.
  • Proposals meet requirements of (emerging) evidence for impact and scalability.

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 students and early-career professionals from all disciplines to promote their exceptional ideas that create a positive impact on science and society.

Selection Criteria

  • Nominees must be 18 years or older. There is no upper age limit.
  • Nominees must be current university students or recent graduates with a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree/MD or PhD/Dr.med.
  • Nominations can be submitted from all disciplines.
  • Previous Falling Walls Lab participants are ineligible.
  • Nominees should be able to demonstrate a breakthrough in their field (i.e. an idea, research project, business model or social initiative that is original, innovative, and relevant to the problems facing the world today). The jury appreciates authentic presenters with a clear vision and proof of concept.
  • For more information, please visit the eligibility criteria page.

Nominees for the Emerging Talents category will be invited to apply to one of the international Falling Walls Labs. If selected, they will be given the opportunity to present their breakthrough idea on an international Falling Walls Lab stage. The winners of these Labs qualify for the global finale in Berlin, which takes place in November as part of the Falling Walls Science Summit.

Category 9
Science Start-ups (Falling Walls Venture)

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

Selection Criteria

  • Open to start-ups based on scientific research.
  • Open to start-ups from 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 (i.e. founded on or after 1 January 2017).
  • Start-ups should at least have a protoype/proof of concept and should already have received some funding.

Category 10
Science Engagement (Falling Walls Engage)

We are searching for all forms of participatory Science Engagement initiatives that generate mutual learning between, and mutual benefits for, science and society.

Selection Criteria

  • Impact 40%
    Initiatives with measurable outcomes and long-term impact on their target group
  • Approach 25%
    Participatory formats of all levels: from public panels to arts-driven or entertaining approaches, or co-productive research.
  • Transferability 25%
    Exemplary initiatives from all over the world with a transferable and/or scalable approach that generates mutual learning and mutual benefits for science and their target group.
  • Overall impression 10%
    Structure and quality of application.
    On 7 Nov: Structure and quality of pitch presentation on stage

Tickets for Science Summit

Here's how you can attend the Summit in Berlin

Tickets go on sale on 13 July 2022.

You will find the link to the ticket shop here.

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