The 2019 Tohoku-Japan regional qualifiers of the Falling Walls Lab competition was held on August 30 at the TOKYO ELECTRON House of Creativity on Katahira Campus.
Nine participants took part this year, vying for the chance to pitch their innovative research ideas at the event final in Berlin.
Kazuo Kakinuma from Tohoku University Hospital won the top prize for his presentation titled "Breaking the Wall of Cognitive Brain Mapping," in which he spoke about investigating critical areas for language dysfunction in a patient's brain. "My goal is to give patients who had no hope with previous techniques, a chance to be helped," he said.
Second place went to John Artieda of Tohoku University's Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, whose presentation was about using telecommunications to make healthcare more accessible, especially in areas with limited resources.
"My idea is to use upcycle electronics," he said. "The ultimate goal is to have a system that works with modules that are easy to implement into a telecommunication kit that can be deployed easily and inexpensively anywhere in the world."
Dentistry graduate student Cindy He came in third with her presentation about working with a new type of dental implant material that interacts better with osteocytes. "I took part in this event for the experience and didn't expect to win," she said. "But it feels like my hard work was recognized so I'm really happy."
The Falling Walls Lab is an international competition started in 2011 to encourage innovative ideas and solutions to global problems.
Contestants pitch their initiatives for social change in a 3 minute presentation, after which they field questions from the jury. Contestants are judged on the "breakthrough factor" of their research, the social relevance of their work, and the persuasiveness of the presentation.
"This is a very good platform for young researchers to polish their skills and get feedback," said Mei Kobayashi, who is a member of the judging panel and a manager at NTT Communications. "Whether or not they get an award, this experience will enhance the students' ability to communicate with people outside of their own research field. And that is a skill that is actually very hard to learn unless you do it many times."
Kobayashi, who was also a judge at least year's Falling Walls Lab competition, said that the standard of the presentations was noticeably higher this time. "It feels like everyone was better prepared and everyone tried to catch the audience's attention right from the start. It was very competitive," she said.
The Tohoku-Japan regional qualifiers of the Falling Walls Lab is held in Sendai every year and attracts contestants from all scientific disciplines. Kakinuma will join the winners from other regional contests around the world for the Falling Walls Lab Final in Berlin on November 8-9.
Contact:Falling Walls Lab Sendai Administration, Tohoku University
Tel: +81 22 217-6091