Review: The Spark 2018

In 2018, The Spark – The German Digital Award focused on companies within the field of robotics which offered an innovative, scalable concept and had been already successfully tested in a business context.


Together, Handelsblatt and McKinsey honored the award winners of The Spark – The German Digital Award for a third time in front of an invited audience comprising 300 guests from politics, business, and science. Ten digital pioneer-businesses presented themselves at the “Arena Berlin” to the audience.

The winners

All ten finalists inspired the jury with their business idea and presented their innovations to the audience of the award ceremony 2018. You can find the video of the presentations on Handelsblatt Online.

Following three impressed the jury particularly and therefor left as the winners of The Spark 2018:


Until recently, robots used to be programmed for one defined action, which they carried out again and again. If machines are supposed to work side by side with humans, they need to recognize the environment and need to be able to react in accordance to it. Therefore, they have to use a sensor system. The electronic brain might be from Magazino. The robotic expert developed ACROS which is an intelligent operating system that helps to programm, control and link robots. Big advantage: all robots who work with ACROS share their experiences in a cloud. Therefore, they can learn autonomously new abilities from each other. ACROS is already implemented in the market successfully.


Hand prosthesis help people who lost their hand by illness or accident or were born without one. Previous prosthesis types were heavy, big and only designed for one specific application. The robotic hand Evolution3 from Vincent Systems offers an innovation leap in many ways: the prosthesis offers the same size and weight than a human one. Furthermore, the robotic hand can be moved intuitively via muscle signals – further, each and every single finger can be moved separately. 14 different grips are possible and therefore activities such as crocheting are possible which weren’t before.


One cannot have everything. Recently this could be applied at unmanned aircrafts: helicopter drones don’t need much space starting and landing but cannot fly long distances. Fixed wing airplanes can fly long distances due to their aerodynamics but need a runway for starting and landing. Quantum-Systems combines the advantages of both concepts in one aircraft. Their drones Tron and Trinity offer the ability to vertically take off and land without additional equipment. Besides, they can fly eight times longer and three times higher than traditional drones. Their application area: monitoring fields, measuring landscapes, examining infrastructures. They were already in use to examine the damaged nuclear power plant Chernobyl.


Between March and July 2018, we looked for the best candidates and chose ten as finalists. We would like to briefly introduce the finalists 2018 to you:


Enways software transforms street sweepers into intelligent cleaning machines. With the help of sensory data the machines find their own way.

FairFleet GMBH

FairFleet offers a one-stop-shop for drones. Consulting, flight planning and image analysis – a real Uber for drone’s pilots so companies can save money and time.

Kewazo GMBH

Kewazo’s robotic system transports scaffoldings and materials on construction sites along the scaffolds. Kewazo therefore helps saving time and money and increases safety.


With ACROS Magazino is building a software framework, which operates perception guided robots, manages their task execution, coordinates the robot fleet and gathers knowledge through a cloud based artificial intelligence.

Medineering GMBH

Medineering’s modular robotic-system supports doctors during surgery such as ear, nose and throat surgery. The system helps to reduce surgery time and increases accuracy.

MetraLabs GMBH

MetraLabs’s TORY is a mobile service robot that takes stock autonomously and fully automatically in warehouses and sales areas. Thus, retailer always have access to inventory information, can faster top up their shelves and sales can be increased.

micropsi industries GMBH

micropsi industries’s MIRAI is a robot control system for industrial robots designed for complex assembly tasks. MIRAI skills aren’t programmed, but trained – through demonstration, correction, and repetition. This allows users to create skills without writing a single line of code or modelling the problem.

Quantum-Systems GMBH

Quantum-Systems combines the advantages of helicopter drones and fixed wing airplanes. Their drones offer the ability to vertically take off and land without additional equipment. Besides they can fly longer and higher than traditional drones.

Reactive Robotics GMBH

VEMO, the medical assistant robot of Reactive Robotics, helps to mobilize critical care patients at an early stage. Therefore risk of thrombosis and the workload for nursing staff can be reduced.

Vincent Systems GMBH

Evolution 3, Vincent Systems’s robotic hand protheses, is similar to a human hand when it comes to size and weight. Furthermore each single finger can be moved via muscle signals.

THE Jury

Within our application process ten finalists were preselected. On the 19th of September those finalists introduced their innovation at the live pitches during the jury session. The winners were announced at the award ceremony on the 8th of November in Berlin.

In 2018 following high-caliber jury with professional know-how selected the winners from the applications:

Sven Afhüppe

Editor-in-chief Handelsblatt


Cornelius Baur

Head of McKinsey Germany


Simone Strey

CEO and Co-Founder PEAT GmbH


Jörn Nikolay

Managing Director General Atlantic


Reinhold Achatz

Chief Technology Officer and Head of Corporate Function Technology, Innovation & Sustainability thyssenkrupp AG

Prof. dr. dr. Ann-Kristin Achleitner

Scientific Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial and Financial Studies (CEFS), Munich University of Technology


Till Reuter



Lucian Schönefelder

Director KKR, Head of European Growth Equity and Digital Media PE


Klaus Glatz

Chief Digital Officer ANDRITZ AG


Norbert Elkmann

Robotic Systems Business Unit Manager Fraunhofer IFF Magdeburg


Thomas Herzinger

Head of Innovations and Digitalization for Engines and the Electrified Powertrain BMW Group

Christian Schlögel

Chief Digital Officer Körber AG


Kirsten Ludowig

Handelsblatt – Head of department company & markets


Niko Mohr

Partner at McKinsey

Prof. Michael Dowling

Professor for Innovation and Technology Management, University of Regensburg and Chairman of the Board of the Münchener Kreis

Prof. dr. habil. Alois Knoll

Professor at the Technical University of Munich, Chair of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Real-Time Systems


Jackson Bond

CPO (Chief Product Officer) and Co-Founder of relayr