Lucie Menz

Guest article | Falling Walls Venture Berlin: The international platform for science based start-ups

The Falling Walls Foundation renowned for its meeting of the “brightest minds on the planet”, as the BBC called the annual Falling Walls Conference, set up a new global forum for science based start-ups in 2013. At Falling Walls Venture, they are invited to present their business concepts to investors, opinion leaders and a distinguished jury on 8 November in Berlin.

When you think about the start-up scene, fancy mobile apps, devices or new online services instantly come to mind. The connection to science and basic research seems to be a very remote one, as is the interconnection between universities and venture capital. When money is spent on science and research, you are often confronted with the question: What is the economic benefit? How does this have a positive impact on the economy and can it – in the end – create new jobs? The answer is: definitely yes!

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Numerous start-up companies arise from new scientific findings that resulted from research conducted at universities: companies operating in medicine, life sciences, biotechnologies or IT, developing new materials, vaccines or green technologies. These are the start-ups the Falling Walls Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Berlin, wanted to create a platform for by launching Falling Walls Venture in 2013: A showcase for new companies that are founded by researchers and based on new scientific insights.

At Falling Walls Venture, universities and venture capital companies from all around the world are invited to nominate their science based start-up with the highest breakthrough potential. The best twenty nominations are then selected to present their business to a broad audience of stakeholders at Falling Walls Venture in Berlin on 8 November. They have only five minutes to make their case and persuade the high-caliber jury to award the title “Falling Walls Science Start-Up of the Year”. The winning start-up gets the chance to present itself at the Falling Walls Conference on the following day in front of 600 guests.

Cynora, a young company nominated by the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, came first at the initial Falling Walls Venture edition in 2013. Their focus on efficient materials for use in OLEDs (organic lighting diodes), a technology that allows efficient display and lighting application without being dependent on rare materials, convinced the entire jury. Asked about the impact of their presentation at Falling Walls, their founder Tobias Grab highlighted the importance of the contacts made in Berlin “the reports and nominations in national and international newspapers continue to have an effect on the company. (…) Furthermore, plenty of companies have shown interest in our company, which has lead to co-operations and opportunities.”

Building inter- and transdisciplinary networks, exchanging ideas and presenting breakthroughs in science and society is at the core of the Falling Walls days taking place in Berlin on 8 and 9 November. This will hopefully result in future partnerships and initiatives that do make a change in society!

If you wish to nominate a start-up or if you are a newly founded company based on a scientific insight, apply now online for Falling Walls Venture.


About the author: Lucie Menz is Head of Press & Communication of the Falling Walls Foundation, a unique international annual gathering of leaders from science, business, government, and the arts. For more information please also visit: Falling Walls Foundation.

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