Birzeit University hosts the first Falling Walls Lab in Palestine

The first Falling Walls Lab Palestine was hosted by the Unit for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Birzeit University and organized by the DAAD on Wednesday May 24th, 2017.

Inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9th November 1989 and under the theme of ‘Which wall will fall next?’, 14 candidates from several disciplines and across many cities of the West Bank were each given three minutes to share their breakthrough ideas, research, and business models with a panel of experts. Their presentations identified which ‘walls’ they wanted to break down and they spoke on how their action research and ideas will help to accomplish this. The event was organized by DAAD in cooperation with Birzeit University and funded by the German Foreign Ministry.

During her keynote speech, Ms. Christina Stahlbock, Director DAAD Information Centre East Jerusalem, spoke of the aim of the Falling Walls Lab which is to provide a platform through which revolutionary ideas and innovations in a wide field of action research, tackling real world problems, can be presented and discussed with a wider audience of academics, industry leaders, government representatives, and the general public. DAAD is hosting more than 20 Falling Walls Labs around the globe this year.

In her opening remarks, the VP for Planning and Development, Dr. Mirvat Bulbul asserted that Birzeit University is committed – at the highest level - to fostering a highly entrepreneurial environment – and to facilitate this, a Unit for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was recently launched and activated.  “We are thrilled that our university is hosting the first Falling Walls Lab: Palestine, that is organized by the DAAD,” noted Dr. Bulbul in her speech.  “The Lab and similar events unlock and open up numerous opportunities for our students and bolster the university’s entrepreneurial and innovation spirit.”

Mr. Bernd Kuebart noted that the Representative Office of the Federal Republic of Germany Ramallah is delighted and is proud to support this prestigious event – as it represents a platform for outstanding Palestinian talents to showcase groundbreaking solutions to pressing problems in their communities and elsewhere.  Mr. Kuebart emphasized the importance of such events in mobilizing bright young minds to pursue actionable initiatives that would change the future and make it a better place for the generations to come.

The 14 presenters were evaluated on breakthrough factor, degree of impact, and performance and the 3 finalists were as follows:

1st Place: Mohammad Daghamin – Breaking the Wall of the Traditional Pixel
2nd Place: Nadia Assali - Breaking the Wall of Negative Spaces In Palestinian Refugee Camps
3rd Place: Mohammad Saffarini – Breaking the Wall of I’m Seeing

The first-place winner will compete against 100 young innovators from 50 countries all around the world representing Palestine.  Furthermore, the winner will be invited to participate in the main conference featuring presentations from some of the world’s most prominent scientists.

The jury panel consisted of prominent individuals: Ms. Laura-Louise Scheller, First Secretary Cultural and Protocol Affairs (Representative Office of Federal Republic of Germany), Mr. Iyad Joudeh, member of BZU's Board of Trustees & Director and Founder of Solutions for Development and Consulting, Mr. Marc Frings, Director Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung; Mr. Jonas Blume, Director German Development Bank / KfW Office Ramallah; Dr. Samah Abu Asab, President DAAD Alumni Association; Dr. Nariman Ammar, Faculty Member - Department of Computer Science - Birzeit University; Mr. Iyad Masrouji, Member of BZU’s Board of Trustees &  CEO of Jerusalem Pharmaceuticals , and Mr. Ayman Sbieh, Board Member Higher Council for Innovation & Excellence, Industrial Union .

The Falling Walls Lab was founded by the Falling Walls Foundation in 2011, in order to connect emerging talents and senior innovators, and support and develop outstanding researchers. The first Lab was held in conjunction with Berlin’s Falling Walls Conference. The Conference is an annual gathering of forward thinking individuals from 75 countries, where world’s leading experts/thought leaders identify and discuss trends, opportunities and solutions to some of the world's many challenges facing.

Considering this year’s success DAAD and Birzeit University will continue to host the Falling Walls Lab in order to provide a platform for young innovators from Palestine, enabling them to present the potential of young bright Palestinian minds on an international stage.