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Falling Walls Finalists What Are the Most Important Scientific Breakthroughs of the Year?

Editor: MA Alexander Stark

The Falling Walls Foundation announced the shortlist for the prestigious “Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year”. The final “Science Breakthroughs of the Year” will be presented in Berlin on 9 November, the anniversary day of the fall of the Berlin Wall, at the Falling Wall Science Summit.

(Source: Public Domain / Unsplash)

Berlin/Germany — The Falling Walls Science Summit is a leading international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral forum for scientific breakthroughs and science dialogue between global science leaders and society. The event takes place every year from 7–9 November in Berlin, commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall. Again, a distinguished jury reviewed over 1000 nominations from leading academic institutions from 115 countries.

The jury chaired by Helga Nowotny, President emeritus of the European Research, shortlisted work from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), ETH Zurich, University of Science and Technology of China and other renowned international institutions. The jury identified ten shortlist winners in the first seven categories, ranging from life science to innovation management.

From quantum exploration and disease prevention to novel methods of climate preservation and post-Covid societal development, the winners shared the results of their excellent research that combat the most pressing challenges of our time.

Disease prevention and early diagnostics with special focus on viral and terminal diseases informed the winning research in Life Sciences. The category also included a novel therapeutic method to fight SARS-CoV-2 with camelid nanobodies.

Present in four out of ten winning projects, quantum reigned supreme in Physical Sciences. Other projects included research on SARS-Cov-2 aerosol transmission as well as a novel approach to environmental preservation by CO2 dissolution in water and its injection into subsurface basalts.

Healthcare, for humans as well as crops, was central among the winners in Engineering and Technology, who explored the potential of small robotic devices for therapeutics and non-invasive surgery and presented the first plant-based robot for potential crop health monitoring.

Science skepticism, online misinformation, and polarisation on social media — the role of the Internet during the Covid-19 pandemic permeated the winning research in Social Sciences and Humanities.

The paradigm of human-technology interaction and human impact on environment reflected in the winning projects in the category Art and Science.

The research in the category Future Learning offered solutions for accessible and inclusive education in underrepresented and marginalized communities with particular emphasis on skill-building and technological education.

The winners in Science and Innovation Management put forward solutions for more efficient knowledge sharing and emphasized the connectivity of entrepreneurial researchers within the academic innovation ecosystems.