“Any institution that cares about innovation can benefit from being involved in such an initiative”

A report about the organisation of a Falling Walls Lab

As a founding partner of the Falling Walls Lab, A.T. Kearney takes its role seriously. The global management consulting company is organising some of the preliminaries for the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin. Read how the offices in São Paulo, Johannesburg, San Francisco Bay Area and Sydney experienced the organisation of the event, the great ideas that were presented and what impressed them most.

Organising an event takes effort: Selecting the participants, assembling a high-quality panel of judges with movers and shakers that give a good example of the entrepreneurial space, planning a media campaign, logistics, transportation, …. It’s a lot to care of. Adam Dixon, partner at A.T. Kearney Australia points out that one of the sticking points is a high-profile panel of judges. “The venue is only as good as the judges. The presented ideas will be fertile only if it’s possible to enable an intensive and professional debate.” Yet, for Sandra Strongren, Human Resources manager at A.T. Kearney São Paulo, it was pretty clear that they would make this effort: “We supported the Falling Walls Lab because we believe in innovation as a way to change society. The event gives exposure to relevant new developments and points a finger at the great challenges of our time.” Contributing to each country’s innovative entrepreneurial community by inviting the brightest and most active minds would be an important reason for the organisers to engage, as Nicole Malanda from Johannesburg emphasises. Marcel Krutil, Senior Business Analyst in the San Francisco Bay Area, is sure that it’s also a marketing opportunity – for both recruitment and business development through the support of ‘grassroots’ innovation.

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Organising a Falling Walls Lab was a highlight for each of the offices. “Seeing how engaged the audience was and how the contestants challenged each other with good questions was impressive to see. And even though it was a competition, the camaraderie was commendable and heart-warming – all the participants were excited and happy for the winner,” says Nicole Malanda, Business Analyst with A.T. Kearney South Africa. For François Santos, partner at A.T. Kearney in São Paulo, the highlight was clear: “The partnership between Brazil and Germany ensures that important initiatives like this actually occur, gaining awareness and backing.” Record subscriptions show that the Lab has aroused wide interest. Registrations for this year’s event in Brazil increased, totalling 94 ideas, 50% up on 2015.

gewinner_saopauloAccordingly, a wide array of ideas was presented. In São Paulo, for example, winner José Augusto Stuchi was breaking the Wall of Blindness Due to Retinal Diseases: “I invented an ophthalmic device to capture images at the back of the eye for medical diagnosis,” explained Stuchi. “It’s low cost, so great for telemedicine, allowing remote diagnosis and it can be used anywhere, no matter how distant or remote. It’s geared to children, bedridden people, as well as remote communities that aren’t catered to.” As millions of people are visually impaired, his idea is a good example of how the Lab can offer solutions to global problems. Besides, it addresses major social challenges, such as the Zika virus, which also damages the retina and optic nerve.

In San Francisco, the quality of the two best presenters “was so impressive that we had a split vote of the judges and are therefore sending two contestants to the Finale in Berlin,” says Marcel Krutil.

For him, it’s impressive to see how many participants are already actively applying their innovations to the real world – not just leaving their concepts in the realm of theory. Seeing such great ideas and feeling the entrepreneurial spirit gives hope for a bright future and surely motivates all organisers to host a Falling Walls Lab. It seems that, even if it takes a lot of energy and commitment from the local consultants and administrative teams, the results are worth it. Nicole Malanda is convinced: “Our company is committed to supporting such a great initiative! Any institution that cares, works with or is geared toward youth and innovation can benefit from being involved in such an initiative.”

If you are interested in hosting a Falling Walls Lab at your institution, the Falling Walls Lab Team would be delighted to receive your email at lab@falling-walls.com.

Learn more about the Falling Walls Lab at www.falling-walls.com/lab

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