Falling Walls Lab Australia 2017

FallingWalls2017. Enlarge image (© Australian Academy of Science / Brad Cummings)

During this year’s Falling Walls Lab 2017, held at the Academy of Science’s Shine Dome in Canberra on September 12, Mortaza Rezae won over the jury with his smartphone transport-app for people on the autism spectrum. His prize is a trip to Berlin, where he will participate in the grand finale on November 8 and get the chance to network with experts in his field. Mr Rezae competed against 24 other young researchers from Australia and New Zealand.

Participants from all fields of sciences were attending

The annual Falling Walls Lab offers young scientists, academics, entrepreneurs and professionals an excellent opportunity to present their research, business model, innovative project or idea to their peers as well as to a distinguished jury, consisting of judges from academia, business, government and finance. This year, the jury was chaired by Dr Charles Day, CEO of the Office of Innovation & Science Australia. The contestants have only three minutes for their presentations, followed by a two-minute Q&A session. The majority of young researchers, who came from universities in Australia and New Zealand, were from a science background such as engineering and medicine. However, a small group of contestants from the fields of humanities, economic and social sciences was also present, adding another field of research to the already impressive range of potential future projects and making the decision process very difficult.

Transport-App for people on the Autism Spectrum

FallingWalls2017 Enlarge image (© Australian Academy of Science / Brad Cummings) Mr Rezae, who demonstrated great passion for his project during his presentation, was inspired to design an app for autistic people by his autistic brother. His intention was to help people with autism to use public transport more safely and independently, by providing a system of step by step customized instructions for the planning of a route. The app allows users to plan trips according to their preferences, taking into consideration factors such as the crowdedness of trains and stations as well as the number of interchanges. It also offers an in-built anxiety management function, which can provide a customized virtual card to ask for assistance where verbal communication is impossible or alert the traveller when it is time to get off the train or bus, when required. The transport-app is a collaboration project between Western Australia’s Curtin University and the University of Western Sydney and was designed in collaboration with people who are on the autism spectrum.

FallingWalls17 Enlarge image (© German Embassy Canberra)

Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin on November 8

As the winner of the second Australian Falling Walls Lab, Mr Rezae will next travel to Berlin to participate in the grand finale on November 8. He will get the opportunity to present his transport-app and compete against contestants from all over the world. Most importantly, however, he will get the chance to network with experts in his field and make contact with business representatives. The Falling Walls Foundation was established in Berlin in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the support of science and the humanities. Its goal is to support scientific, technological, economic and sociological breakthroughs and help young researchers realise their innovative ideas. Since 2009, over 80 international Falling Walls Labs have been held in close to 50 countries worldwide with over 1,000 participants. This year’s competition in Canberra is hosted by the Australian Academy of Science in partnership with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canberra and the German–Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, as well as the New Zealand Royal Society Te Apārangi and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Wellington.