DWIH Recognizes Top Innovators of 2020

  • Robert Luo, Laurent Shiels and Kevin Zuo are the winners of the New York Falling Walls Lab.
  • With this prize, the German Center for Research and Innovation and the Falling Walls Foundation honor the best entrepreneurs and early-career researchers worldwide from a list of highly-qualified applicants and competitors.
  • Robert Luo will pitch his idea again at the Falling Walls Lab global finals, to be held online on November 9 to an audience of over 1,000 leading thinkers from across research, industry, government and civil society.

The winners of the Falling Walls Lab New York, which took place May 7, are:

1st Place: Robert Luo, Mi Terro, “Breaking the Wall of Food Waste”

2nd Place: Laurent Shiels, Solace Health, “Breaking the Wall of Poor Mental Healthcare”

3rd Place: Kevin Zuo, University of Toronto, “Breaking the Wall of Peripheral Nerve Regeneration”

What if unused milk could be turned into clothes? Or if mental healthcare were made more accessible through digital, peer-to-peer counseling? Thanks to Robert Luo and Laurent Shiels, who won first and second place at the Falling Walls Lab New York, these ideas may soon be reality.

Held annually since 2016, the Falling Wall Lab New York recognizes young entrepreneurs and early-career researchers developing ground-breaking ways to address the greatest challenges of our time. The German Center for Research and Innovation (DWIH) New York selected the eight most promising applicants from a wide pool of submissions. Pitches are evaluated based on three criteria: breakthrough factor, scope of impact and presenter performance.

Winner Robert Luo was drawn to the Lab for the opportunities of growth and exchange. “I wanted to connect with a community of scientists and researchers who could help us accelerate our project on reducing global food waste,” said Luo.

Robert won first prize for his company Mi Terro. which re-engineers food waste into sustainable fibers to replace plastic in the fashion, medical and packaging industries. Laurent Shiels placed second for his app Solace Health, which enables anonymous peer-to-peer mental health counseling, and Kevin Zuo placed third for his work on a device that regenerates nerves through electrical stimulation.

Robert will present his first-place pitch again at the Falling Walls Lab global finale, to be held remotely on November 9, the 31st anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. In 2019, 100 competitors from 63 nations competed in the finale. The Lab aims to advance exceptional scientific and entrepreneurial visions and to promote exchange between early-career researchers and young professionals across disciplines.

“Right now we live in a time of uncertainty and disconnection,” said DWIH New York Director Benedikt Brisch. “The Falling Walls Lab shows us how connection and cooperation are essential for us as humans and how they help us find solutions for our global world.”

The Falling Walls Lab is organized by the Falling Walls Foundation and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Berlin-Senate, the Bayer Foundations, Huawei, and Sartorius. It is supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and the German Academic Exchange (DAAD). The Falling Walls Lab New York is supported the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

More information at: https://www.dwih-newyork.org/UWyU9