This year, we are honoring startups that are committed to the transformation to a Circular Economy. This is because traditional production and consumption patterns follow a linear logic: extract, produce, consume, dispose – with high costs for people and the environment. Dependence on raw material imports is increasingly becoming a problem. A resource-conserving circular economy is a prerequisite for a more sustainable industry. Digitalization and bio-based plastics are crucial for the success of the circular economy.
We are looking for companies that improve the use of resources throughout the lifecycle by means of digitalization, new technologies, processes, procedures, automation or interfaces.
Take the chance to present your ideas to a prominent jury and a high-caliber audience. As well as expand your network to make important business contacts.



We are looking for innovative business models whose novel ideas revolutionize previously existing solutions or address previously unsolved problems and have the potential to fundamentally and sustainably change markets.


We are looking for start-ups whose innovative technologies and products show significant growth potential, whose business models are capable of expansion and are characterized by a high degree of versatility.


We award results that have already been demonstrated at a customer site and have led to efficiency increases, cost reductions, quality or customer satisfaction improvements. At a minimum, your product should exist as a proof of concept.

ESG criteria

We believe that not only innovation and business model, but also responsible corporate governance is critical for long-term success. We are looking for startups that integrate business growth enhancement with a commitment to a more sustainable, socially just, and ethically sound future.


1. Screening

During the screening process, all applications will be reviewed to determine if they meet the eligibility requirements. In addition, an initial assessment will be made along the three evaluation criteria of novelty, scalability, and customer value. All valid applications will be 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. Here, too, the three evaluation criteria are the yardstick for arriving at a result. The 10 best applications are nominated as finalists.

3. Online Voting

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

4. Jury Session

During the jury session on 18.09.2023 in Düsseldorf, all finalists will present their innovation on site in front of the jury members. Afterwards, the finalists will be judged by the jury members based on the evaluation criteria. Each jury member has one vote and creates a personal ranking of the finalists.


On November 23, 2023, the winners will be honored at a glamorous award ceremony in Berlin in front of an expert audience. All 10 finalists will present their ideas and concepts live on stage. During the after-show party, all finalists will have the opportunity to network with invited C-level guests. We have embedded the video of the 2022 award ceremony for you again here.

Learn more about The Spark of the last years here.