Falling Walls Lab Tokyo 2019

© DWIH Tokyo

For the fourth consecutive year, a local edition of Falling Walls Lab, a global science communication contest for highly motivated young students and researchers, was co-organised by the German Centre for Research and Innovation Tokyo (DWIH Tokyo) and EURAXESS Japan. The 2019 edition of Falling Walls Lab Tokyo was hosted by the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), a research institute within Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Following the structure established by the German organisation Falling Walls Foundation, young scientists presented their research projects in English within no more than three minutes, highlighting their innovative aspects and potential impacts on the advancement of science and society in general. This year, 14 pre-selected young researchers and students were invited to present their approach to breaking down new walls to knowledge at the Tokyo event on the evening of June 13. An impressive variety of nationalities, research fields (including social sciences and humanities), career levels and home institutions were represented, resulting in very different topics, from collaborative learning on social media to non-invasive healthcare monitoring, and feedback sensors for remotely operated robots.

This diversity of topics made the task of the jury — composed of renowned Japanese and international academics and industry representatives — even more difficult. Their role was to rank each contribution based on Falling Walls’ three key criteria: Breakthrough Factor, Relevance and Impact, and Performance and Structure. To entertain the audience during the lively discussions in the jury deliberation room, a “catch and tell” session was co-chaired by two professional science communicators: Caitlin Devor (University of Tokyo) and Thilina Heenatigala (ELSI), allowing attendees to exchange views and interact with the speakers.

In 2019, a single winner emerged from the event: Collin Stecker, materials science specialist and graduate student at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, for his research on a ground-breaking, versatile and affordable solar cell system. He will receive an invitation and a flight ticket to attend the Falling Walls Lab Finale on November 8, 2019 in Berlin, in which the winners from more than 70 Falling Walls Lab events worldwide will participate. In a first for this event, an entrepreneurship prize funded by Research in Germany was granted to another excellent speaker for their outstanding potential as a future entrepreneur. Riku Yamada, student in physical engineering at the University of Tokyo, received this prize for his project on food waste recycling. The Entrepreneurship Prize wins him a flight ticket to Berlin to join the Falling Walls Lab Finale 2019 as part of the audience and participate in the Innovation Days seminar organised in cooperation with TU9 German Universities of Technology.

The Falling Walls Lab format was launched in 2011 in Berlin and the Finale is held every year on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. About 80 Falling Walls Lab events are held annually in cities across the globe. Winners of all local Labs qualify for the finale in Berlin on 8 November. In Japan, applications are invited for the annual Falling Walls Lab events in Tokyo (held since 2016) and Sendai (held since 2014).

Please find photos of the event here.
Please find the video of the event here.

Falling Walls Lab Tokyo 2019, The winners


Collin Stecker
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology
Breaking the Wall of affordable, flexible, renewable energy

Entrepreneurship Prize

Riku Yamada
“Breaking the Wall of food loss”