In focus: The work of DWIH São Paulo in 2022

the DWIH São Paulo team © Felipe Mairowski

In its tenth anniversary year, DWIH São Paulo offered new types of event and a powerful presence despite ongoing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also advanced virtual networking between actors from science and the private sector.

In-person reception to mark the anniversary

Ten years of DWIH São Paulo – In 2022, the anniversary celebrations were still very much marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Backed up by the Brazilian vaccination campaign and a sound hygiene concept, however, DWIH São Paulo ventured to hold an in-person reception for 70 people on its own premises in February 2022. “As far as Brazil is concerned, professional dialogue on a face-to-face basis is of such vital importance we wanted to send out a bold and courageous signal by holding this physical event after two years of isolation,” explains Marcio Weichert, Head of Programme at DWIH São Paulo. “The aim was to convey the message: we’re here to support you!” The organisation was exemplary – and the plan worked: this key network meeting was attended by numerous managers from Brazilian universities and funding institutions, as well as representatives of DWIH support and partner organisations. The consistently positive response showed just how much the DWIH São Paulo is valued as a partner by the Brazilian academic community and perceived as a platform for German-Brazilian cooperation.

Full of ideas: participants of the Young Innovators Week Brazil
Full of ideas: participants of the Young Innovators Week Brazil

Door-opener for start-ups

At the end of May 2022, DWIH São Paulo organised the Young Innovators Week Brazil in collaboration with the Innovation Agency of the University of São Paulo (USP) for the first time – and it was a resounding success. For 16 young researchers from Germany and Brazil with well-advanced plans to establish start-ups, the week offered a packed programme focusing on the Brazilian and German business and innovation landscape. With an enormous variety of personalities from business, science and research contributing presentations, it opened up a whole range of internationalisation perspectives for the participating founders. The programme was rounded off with daily visits to companies and research institutes, along with presentations of the competitions sponsored by DWIH São Paulo, namely Falling Walls Lab and Startups Connected. The week resulted in direct networking between almost 100 individuals, while some 260 additional participants benefited from the online videos of the event on YouTube.

Green hydrogen as a key energy source

For a particularly topical debate, DWIH São Paulo cooperated with DWIH New York in April 2022 to organise a DWIH São Paulo Online Talk (DSPOT) on the latest aspects of green hydrogen as an energy source, featuring brief presentations by experts from Brazil, Germany and the USA. Marcio Weichert, alternating with Kristian Kramer – who is responsible at GIZ for the German-Brazilian partnership in the energy sector – took turns in moderating discussions that featured perspectives from politics, science and business. All in all, it clearly emerged that green hydrogen offers numerous opportunities for international cooperation as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Innovative women

The Falling Walls Lab (FWL) Brazil 2022 took place on a hybrid basis for the first time. While the jury members sat together on site at the Tecnopuc Science and Technology Park in Porto Alegre, the 15 candidates selected from 80 applications gave virtual presentations of their creative research and business ideas. The main prize was won by mechanics PhD student Isabella Rodrigues with her presentation of a biodegradable stent for use in cardiac surgery. Second and third place also went to female candidates. In addition to the two best-placed FWL participants, two winners of the 2022 and 2020 DAAD Entrepreneurship Award and a young Brazilian biotechnologist selected from the participants of the Young Innovators Week also got to travel to Berlin to attend the Innovation Week of Research in Germany.

Successful premiere: participants in the first German-Brazilian EdTech Hackathon
Successful premiere: participants in the first German-Brazilian EdTech Hackathon

Premiere of the German-Brazilian EdTech Hackathon

Four supporters of DWIH São Paulo had the idea of holding the first ever German-Brazilian EdTech Hackathon. The call for proposals was created by the Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Münster, the Technical University of Munich and the Gesellschaft für akademische Studienvorbereitung und Testentwicklung (g.a.s.t.), and experienced tutors from Germany were invited to take part. An exciting competition ensued that focused on technical solutions to current regional and global challenges. “It was a fantastic experience,” says DWIH Head of Programme Marcio Weichert. In just three days, the young researchers got together in creative teams at Goethe-Institut São Paulo to develop solutions and even products. This new event was such a success that it will go into its second round in 2023.

Bettina Mittelstrass