The winner will go on to pitch their idea at the global Falling Walls Lab finale in Berlin, Germany, at the Falling Walls Science Summit
24 Aug 2023, SINGAPORE – SGInnovate today unveiled the winner of Falling Walls Lab Singapore, the local edition of the pitch competition organised internationally by the Falling Walls Foundation. Dr Tan Pei Leng from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was selected as the winner following a live pitching round.
Dr Tan, a research fellow at NTU, emerged as the winner among the 14 presenters, shortlisted from 37 submissions. Her presentation examined a novel way to treat large burn wounds, which is often challenging due to a scarcity of healthy sites to take skin grafts. This complexity can often delay wound closure, exposing patients to detrimental wound infections.
The proposed solution Dr Tan presented was developed with her PhD supervisor, Associate Professor Tan Lay Poh, from NTU’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, and involves encapsulating samples of the patient’s skin cells into microspheres, allowing them to proliferate to a high density. These microspheres would then degrade upon application to the wound site, releasing the proliferative skin cells, which can expand rapidly to form a large epidermal-dermal sheet that facilitates skin regeneration at a much faster rate.
“The Falling Walls Lab is very much a science communication competition. So how can you present your idea to an audience that is not a specialist in your subject? Dr Tan made her pitch relevant, and presented her ideas in a very understandable way,” said Dr Guido Schneiders, Director, DAAD Regional Office Jakarta. “With science having an ever-growing impact on daily life, we need better communication between the scientific community and the public.”
Participants at Falling Walls Lab Singapore were given three minutes to present their ideas in just three slides to a judging panel comprising five distinguished academics and business leaders:
- Dr Thorsten Clausing, Science & Technology Counsellor, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Singapore
- Dr Suzanne Rentow-Vasu, Regional Project Director, EURAXESS Worldwide – ASEAN
- Dr Guido Schneiders, Director, DAAD Regional Office Jakarta
- Dr Po Weijie, Chief Scientist, Digital Life Line & Winner, Falling Walls Lab Singapore, 2019
- Andre Stolz, Co-founder & Managing Director, Budding Innovation Pte Ltd
Dr Tan will join international winners from other Lab locations including Sydney, Uganda and Madrid at the global Falling Walls Lab finale in Berlin, Germany, where she will compete to be named Breakthrough Winner of the Year by a high-ranking, interdisciplinary jury, and receive a cash prize. The winners will also get to present their projects at the Falling Walls Science Summit to an audience of global leaders in science, business, and policymaking.
The Falling Walls Science Summit is held on 7-9 Nov annually, marking the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“The treatment of large burn wounds is a prevalent global challenge and an issue that could affect anyone. I wanted to win this pitch and convey my ideas to other like-minded experts, who could work with us to bring this idea out of the lab and into the market which would significantly improve the quality of life for patients recovering from large burn wounds,” said Dr Tan.
Pitches for Falling Walls Lab Singapore were not restricted by any theme or topic, and evaluated based on three key criteria:
- Breakthrough factor – How innovative is the proposed idea?
- Potential impact – How relevant is the idea to the discipline and beyond?
- Performance – How convincing was the presentation?
Other ideas presented today included ways to make DNA as a data storage platform more reliable, a potential new anti-viral to help the human body fight Dengue Fever, and an animal-free growth serum for cell-cultured meat.
The Falling Walls Foundation is a non-profit organisation bringing a new generation of freedom. It promotes breakthrough thinking while building a community of leaders from science, business, and public sector networks to tackle pressing challenges and make groundbreaking ideas accessible to society.
“SGInnovate is proud to host the Singapore edition of the global Falling Walls Lab, alongside our ecosystem partners. It has been an amazing platform to showcase so many of Singapore’s promising young innovators and scientists, and we look forward to seeing Dr Tan present her winning idea on the global stage in Berlin,” said Veronica Puah, Executive Director, Community, SGInnovate.
At SGInnovate, we build and scale Deep Tech startups into high potential companies with global impact. We believe that hard global problems can be solved using Deep Tech, and Singapore, where we are based, is uniquely positioned to realise Deep Tech innovations that can tackle these challenges. We focus on adding tangible value to the Deep Tech startup ecosystem in two key areas – development of Human Capital and deployment of Investment Capital. With the support of our partners and co-investors, we back entrepreneurial scientists through equity-based investments, access to talent and business-building advice. Our efforts are prioritised around emerging technologies such as Advanced Manufacturing, AgriFood, Healthcare and Biomedical Sciences and Sustainability, which represent impactful and scalable answers to global challenges.
SGInnovate is a private-limited company wholly owned by the Singapore Government. For more information, please visit www.sginnovate.com.
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Christopher Sim, Assistant Director, Communications, SGInnovate
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