REVIEW: The Spark 2019

In 2019, we were looking for the most exciting new reality concepts that are innovative, scalable and have already been successfully tested. Concepts that focus on people, their work and their everyday interaction space: from virtual and augmented reality, voice and gesture control to innovative, virtual training solutions.


Handelsblatt and McKinsey awarded “The Spark – The German Digital Award” for the fourth time on the 21st of November 2019 in front of more than 500 invited guests from politics, business and science. Ten digital pioneer start-ups were finalists at the Berlin station and presented themselves to the audience.


All ten finalists impressed the jury with their business model. But the following four were ultimately convincing and emerged as the winners of “The Spark 2019”:

1. Blickfeld

Blickfeld develops LiDAR (“Light Detection and Ranging”) sensors and software for environment detection. LiDAR is a method for optical distance and speed measurement similar to radar. Instead of radio waves as in radar, laser beams are used.
Thanks to the revolutionary proprietary MEMS technology, Blickfeld can offer a cost-effective LiDAR sensor that is both high-performance and robust – perfect for mass market applications. The solution can be used in autonomous mobility, mapping, robotics and smart cities.

2. Brighter AI

Brighter AI has developed an anonymization technology for visual data based on Deep Learning – Deep Natural Anonymization. Personal information such as faces and license plates are replaced by synthetic image data using generative artificial intelligence. The solution therefore enables companies to protect identities, comply with data protection guidelines, as well as provide analysis and AI development options when recording camera data in public.  Deep Natural Anonymization thus represents a unique innovation for the privacy market.

3. Ubimax

Ubimax Frontline is a unique, fully integrated wearable computing platform that supports picking, manufacturing and maintenance processes and remote assistance – thus offering real added value along the entire value chain. Through the use of wearable computing solutions such as data glasses and augmented reality applications, information becomes immediately accessible to the industrial worker when he needs it, leaving the hands free. Ubimax Frontline connects the real and the digital world. Human workers are “upgraded” by providing data in real time and thus  they can work perfectly together with their “digital colleagues”.

„Female Founder Special Prize“: Anna Iarotska

In order to inspire more female talents to start up a business and to make more successful female start-up role models known, Handelsblatt and McKinsey awarded the “Female Founder Special Prize” for the first time. The special prize was awarded to Anna Iarotska, CEO and co-founder of Robo Wunderkind. She promotes the active use of technology by children. Anna Iarotska sows digital curiosity in a generation that will shape the future. In this generation, more girls should and must be interested in codes, digitalization and technology, and young women must have the courage and support to start businesses. With her start-up Robo Wunderkind she wants to inspire more children for technology and technological professions.


From April to June, we searched for the best applicants and found ten who we selected as finalists. These are the 2019 finalists at a glance:


HoloBuilder by bitstars is the fastest and most insightful solution for documenting construction progress and buildings in a secure SaaS cloud environment


Blickfeld enables autonomous driving for the mass market through scalable LiDAR sensor technology

Brighter AI

With Deep Natural Anonymization, Brighter AI sets a new standard for public cameras, enabling data privacy and a connected world without contradictions


eyecandylab is the developer of, a platform that can display interactive augmented reality around videos and TV programs


Virtual Reality meets driving in real time – holoride enables a new, highly immersive entertainment experience for passengers


oculavis SHARE enables mechanical engineering and construction enterprises, to implement digital business models and innovative processes in their services


RIMASYS offers lifelike training in trauma and orthopedics- the “flight simulator” for surgeons


Ubimax is revolutionizing enterprises processes through wearable computing and augmented reality, helping mobile workers to focus on their tasks rather than time-consuming interaction with computers


Userlane provides companies with a navigation system for software, that allows users to understand and operate any software – without any training


YOU MAWO is a premium eyewear label, specialized in lightweight, high-quality eyewear with modern designs and the option of 100% customization using 3D Scans

THe jury

In a multi-stage process, ten exciting finalists were selected from a large number of interesting applicants, who presented themselves to our top-class jury in the live pitches of the jury meeting on September 30th. The winners were announced and honored at the awards ceremony on November 21st.

For The Spark 2019, we once again put together a top-class jury, which used its expertise to select The Spark winners 2019 at the jury meeting.

Sven Afhüppe

Editor-in-chief Handelsblatt

Prof. dr. dr. Ann-Kristin Achleitner

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

Christian Schlögel

Chief Digital Officer Körber AG


Reinhold Achatz

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

Christina Reuter

Member of the supervisory board KION Group AG


Megumi Ikeda

Managing Director, Hearst Ventures & General Manager, Hearst Ventures Europe


Cornelius Baur

Head of McKinsey Germany

Lukas Zanger

COO Magazino and Winner The Spark 2018

Markus SontHeimer

CIO/CDO and Member of the Board of Management Schenker AG

Martin Hofmann

Group CIO Volkswagen AG

Alena kretzberg

Head of Group Digital Transformation & Strategy Commerzbank AG


In the nomination phase, external topic experts, the Handelsblatt editorial team and a representative of McKinsey evaluate the applications. Here, too, the three evaluation criteria are the benchmark for arriving at a result. The best applications are nominated as finalists.

The experts for the nominations in 2020 are


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

Uli ERxleben

Founder SMACC & Hypatos

Prof. dr. habil. Alois Knoll

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