For the sixth time, Handelsblatt and McKinsey award The Spark to exceptional and innovative start-ups whose ideas have the potential to fundamentally change markets in a lasting way.
This year we are awarding concepts from Germany, Austria and Switzerland dedicated to the mission of “Net Zero Emission”, developing technologies that will have a decisive impact on climate change – one of the central issues that businesses and society face. Successful decarbonization matters for all sectors and industries: Digital innovations regarding generation, storage and transport of energy are just as relevant as new methods and processes across industries, from manufacturing to service providers.

In addition, with the Female Founder Award, we are again nominating recognizing female founders who are convincing digital pioneers with personal commitment and entrepreneurial success. We are looking for inspirational female founders who already established their own digital business model(s) and are energetic role models and shapers, influencing the start-up world with their ideas.

The application phase for 2021 is now closed.
If we can reserve you for the next year, please send us a short e-mail to

[email protected]


The Spark is looking for the most innovative concepts and business models in the field of Net Zero Tech. These ten start-ups were chosen as finalists in 2021 and will present their ideas to the jury on October 6th:


Circunomics is the first cloud-based IoT marketplace for the reuse and recycling of batteries with the vision of a circular economy. With artificial intelligence, the platform simplifies and optimizes the return and re-marketing of e-vehicle batteries for a sustainable use of resources.


Concular has developed software that can be used to digitize materials in buildings so that they can be transferred to new buildings if they are demolished instead of being dumped. This saves CO2, waste and resources.


DABBEL was founded in 2018 with the mission to develop the most scalable, cost-efficient and sustainable software to drastically reduce CO2 emissions in commercial buildings worldwide as quickly as possible. With the DABBEL KI software, CO2 emissions can be reduced by up to 40% in less than 4 weeks – completely without additional hardware.


To get the masses excited about electromobility – elvah is committed to this. With its uncomplicated app including recommendations for the best charging experience and a charging flat rate for electric cars, the company offers its customers vendor-independent and digital access to all public charging stations in Germany and 30 other countries.


Our company is based on the three pillars Trust, Eco and Technology. Our vision of driving the energy transition through innovative solutions is not a product of strategic considerations, but our daily motivation and a model for our coexistence.


At MIXTERESTING, we are mathematicians with full conviction and passionate problem solvers, and we love to translate our research results and developments into concrete products that can be used to solve customer challenges. With MIXTERESTING we have the unique opportunity to influence the way concrete is conceived and developed in a positive direction.


OroraTech develops the first global information service for forest fires from space, which includes risk assessment, early detection, real-time monitoring and damage analysis. By using New Space technologies, the company wants to help shape a sustainable future.


The Swiss start-up is active in the trading of renewable energies. It offers a set of tools that enable structuring and transparency in the pricing of so-called Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). It offers market analyzes, continuously monitors the energy sales and risks of the PPA deals and the renewable energy assets. In this way, sellers of energy gain more fairness in the energy market. PEXAPARK has more than 50 employees and is already active in 18 markets.


How big is our carbon footprint? Companies can get the answer to this question in detail with the software solution of the company founded in 2019. The data acquisition for the footprint measurement is fully automated and the results are visualized in real time. This forms the basis for CO2 management as well as the definition, implementation and tracking of the climate strategy.


TESVOLT is the technology leader for energy storage solutions for trade and industry. Over 2,200 storage projects have already been delivered worldwide. TESVOLT storage systems can be combined with all renewable energy sources and are manufactured in series in Europe’s first Gigafactory for battery storage systems at the Wittenberg site.

your benefits

As a finalist and winner of The Spark – The German Digital Award you will receive …

… valuable contacts, a knowledgeable network and relevant access.

… a “high-visibility” platform to present your company.

… a well-recognized award enhancing your company’s reputation in the market.

the application process at a glance

Registration & online application form

The application is made via our online application form.  The application window is open and you can apply until July 11, 2021.

Review & preselection

Based on the information you provided, a pre-selection of applicants will be made. The top 10 applicants will be selected as finalists.

Community voting

The online community votes for their favorite finalists. The voting results are included in the jury’s decision.

Jury meeting

On October 6, 2021, the finalists will present their businesses to our high-calibre jury in a live pitch. The jury will then award places 1-3.

Award ceremony

On November 11, 2021, all finalists will present their businesses and places 1-3 are honored as part of the award ceremony in Berlin, offering great networking opportunities for all finalists.

THE SPARK success stories

Many of our The Spark winners and finalists from previous years have had a strong growth trajectory since their participation.

Also apply to The Spark and take your chance.

Current The Spark success stories at a glance:

Ubimax (now TeamViewer)

The third-placed company from 2019 managed a 136 million Euro exit to software company TeamViewer just 9 months after the award. Before The Spark, the company had only raised a few external financings (around 6 million). 


In 2016, the first year of The Spark, our distinguished jury awarded the start-up KONUX as the winner. In February 2019, the company received a further 13 million US dollars as part of an expansion of its Series B financing round. The total volume of KONUX therefore increased to a total of 33 million US dollars.


In 2017, the start-up Octimine was named a finalist of The Spark – The German Digital Prize. In November 2018, the founders sell their company. The Dennemeyer Group, founded in Luxembourg, acquires Octimine.


In 2016, the start-up relayr was also named a winner of The Spark. Just two years later, in September 2018, the company exits with an estimated enterprise value of USD 300 million. Munich Re acquires 100 percent of relayr.


Another success story from the first year of The Spark is Cassantec. The finalist from 2016, a start-up from Berlin, was acquired by ABB at the end of 2019 and was thus able to build on the positive result from four years ago.

you want to learn more?


Here the experts from McKinsey provide you with in-depth information and analyses around this year’s focus topic
“Net Zero Tech”.

Handelsblatt Special

In a special feature on Handelsblatt Online, you will find exciting articles about The Spark – The German Digital Award and this year’s core topic
„Net Zero Tech“

The Spark Review

Handelsblatt and McKinsey have been awarding The Spark – The German Digital Prize since 2016. Learn more about the winners, finalists and jury members of the last years here.


The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is patron of The Spark – The German Digital Prize.


Susan Koll

Head of Awards


Toulouser Allee 27
40211 Düsseldorf

Phone: +49 211 887-2722
E-Mail: [email protected]