With The Spark, we are looking for exciting concepts from the field of “Net Zero Tech” that are innovative as well as scalable and already exist as a prototype/proof of concept. Innovative and digital technologies for an emission-free future are urgently needed to achieve the European Union’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

Take advantage of the opportunity to present your ideas to a prominent jury and a high-calibre audience and network with thought leaders from the Net Zero field as well as valuable business contacts.



We are looking for innovations that revolutionize existing solutions or provide entirely new ones, and have the potential to fundamentally change markets in a lasting way.


We are looking for start-ups whose innovations or results show significant growth potential, whose business models are scalable and have a broad range of use cases.


We honor results that have already been piloted at a customer and have led to increased efficiency, cost reductions, quality or customer satisfaction improvements. Your product should at least exist as a verifiable proof of concept.


1. Screening

During the pre-screening, we check whether all applications meet our conditions of participation. In addition, an initial assessment  along the three evaluation criteria of novelty, scalability and impact is made. All valid applications are admitted to the 2nd evaluation phase, the nomination.

2. Nomination

In the nomination phase, two external topic experts, the Handelsblatt editorial team and a representative of McKinsey evaluate the applications. Again, the three evaluation criteria are applied, yielding a shortlist of ten finalists.

3. Online Voting

The online community votes for the 10 finalists. The voting results will be included in the jury’s decision. For the online voting, the finalists are asked to submit a short pitch video.

4. Jury Meeting

During the jury meeting in Düsseldorf on October 6, 2021, all finalists will present their innovative business models to the jury in a live pitch. Afterwards, the jury members will make a decision on the basis of the evaluation criteria. Each jury member has one vote and creates a personal ranking of the finalists.


On November 11, 2021, the winners will be honoured at a glamorous award ceremony in Berlin. All 10 finalists will receive stage time to present their ideas and concepts. In addition, the Female Founder Award will be awarded to an inspiring female tech founder. There will be networking opportunities with invited C-level guests at the after-show party.

To get an impression, you can find the video of the digital award ceremony from 2020 here.

Here, you can also find out more about The Spark of the last years.