NewsPublished 12 September 2017
Five emerging bright minds pitched their innovative ideas in Australia
Novel solutions to tackling invasive plants, climate change, AI and education, better knee replacements and making sustainable agriculture truly sustainable won five early career researchers from New Zealand and the Pacific the chance to compete at the Australian Falling Walls Lab in Canberra on September 12. Mehdi Saeidi placed 3rd in the competition with his knee implant innovation.
Five early career researchers were selected by Royal Society Te Apārangi, in collaboration with the Germany Embassy. They competed against 20 selected from Australia to see who would attend the Falling Walls Lab final in Berlin.
Mehdi Saeidi from Auckland University of Technology came third for his idea to 'Breaking the Wall of Knee Replacements in Younger Patients' by developing an implant that will remove excessive load and slow progression of osteoarthritis.
Falling Walls Lab gives emerging bright minds the chance to network and become the next big success story in innovation. It provides an opportunity for early career researchers and innovative thinkers to share, in 3 minutes, their idea, research project, or social initiative from all disciplines.
The global event is run by The Falling Walls Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Berlin, dedicated to the support of science and the humanities. It was established in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At its heart is the question ‘Which are the next walls to fall?’ as a result of scientific, technological, economic and sociological breakthroughs.
For 2017, the New Zealand Falling Walls Lab was a collaboration between Royal Society Te Apārangi, the Germany Embassy in Wellington and Canberra, and the Australian Academy of Science.
The other selected New Zealand Falling Walls Lab participants were:
- Sunil Gopaul, University of the South Pacific, Fiji (Breaking the Wall of Invasion Biology: on how to minimise the spread of an invasive pest and restore native flora in Fiji )
- Peni Hausia Havea, University of the South Pacific, Fiji (Breaking the Wall of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: on how five coastal communities in Tonga can adapt)
- Christopher Petrie, University of Canterbury (Breaking the Wall of Education and Artificial Intelligence: on using software to personalise education with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning)
- Federico Tomasetto, AgResearch Limited (Breaking the Wall of Sustainable Agriculture: on how to keep pace with pests with sustainable pest management).
President of Royal Society Te Apārangi, Professor Richard Bedford, and the German Ambassador to New Zealand, H.E. Mr Gerhard Thiedemann, hosted a reception for the Falling Walls Lab participants in Wellington on 11 September. The reception was an opportunity for the Society and the German Embassy to meet the awardees and wish them good luck before they flew to Canberra to compete and for the awardees to share their idea and network.
“This year, thanks to support from the German Embassy in Wellington, we are very pleased to have had the opportunity to also include applications from Pacific Island Forum Nations, in particular students at the University of South Pacific,” says Professor Bedford.
“The New Zealand Falling Walls Lab event offers an opportunity for the Society and the German Embassy to foster the sharing of new ideas and to create networking opportunities for bright early career researchers from New Zealand, Australian and the Pacific Islands.”
The German Ambassador Gerhard Thiedemann stated: “The scientific collaboration between countries is always of vital importance for any flourishing international friendship, which is why Germany strongly supports the Falling Walls project. It is delighting to see how bright young minds strengthen these relationships by presenting their visionary ideas on approaching global challenges.”
More about Falling Walls Lab
Falling Walls Lab events are held in many countries worldwide and the winners of these competitions travel on to attend the Falling Walls Lab final in Berlin. The New Zealand and Pacific Islands Forum Nation winners competed in the Australian Falling Walls Lab, alongside 20 Australian finalists. A jury of distinguished academics and business people selected the winner of Falling Walls Lab Australia 2017. The winner will be automatically admitted to the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin on 8 November 2017.
The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation in Berlin, dedicated to the support of science and the humanities. It was established in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At its heart is the question ‘Which are the next walls to fall?’ as a result of scientific, technological, economic and sociological breakthroughs. Since 2009, there have been over 80 international Labs from close to 50 countries worldwide with over 1,000 participants. 600 outstanding talents have participated in the annual Falling Walls Lab Finales in Berlin from 2011 to 2016.