Looking for the best startups to forge the city of the future

Challenges such as increasing traffic, rising emissions and limited space are affecting Metropolitan regions around the world, and these developments call for innovative approaches. The City of Hamburg aims to support smart solutions for the city of tomorrow, with the Future Hamburg Award. 

Startups that contribute to a sustainable change in urban life in the areas of mobility, logistics or green hydrogen are invited to apply until 31 March 2021.

Hamburg, Germany's second largest city and a real economic powerhouse, has a growing reputation as a hidden gem in the global startup community as it features one of the highest startup rates per capita, the city is currently home to more than 1,200 active startup businesses.

As it happens, Hamburg is one of the few cities with its own startup award, which is aimed at integrating innovative business approaches into the city’s ecosystem. Veronika Reichboth, head of the Hamburg Startup Unit, is one of the initiators of the new Future Hamburg Award, which is now open to submissions. EU-Startups took the opportunity to interview Veronika and to learn more about the award’s focus on mobility, logistics and green hydrogen for a more sustainable city.

With the Future Hamburg Award, the city honours sustainable innovations in the fields of mobility, logistics and hydrogen. The intention is to support founders seeking to integrate their new business approach in an urban ecosystem. These projects have the potential to become best-practice models and thus generate additional positive effects. With its international layout, Hamburg’s new startup award also serves as a bridgehead between Europe, the United States and other pioneering regions worldwide.

What is the Future Hamburg Award and what kind of startups can apply?

The Future Hamburg Award is the international startup award by the City of Hamburg. The first edition of the award was successfully launched in 2018, with 120 submissions from literally all world regions. Starting from now, the Future Hamburg Award 2021 calls on the best startups worldwide to submit their business models and solutions for a strong, sustainable and liveable city of the future.

This year’s edition is focused on three key industries:

  • Logistics
  • Mobility
  • Green hydrogen

That said, other sustainable innovations for tomorrow’s cities are also welcome to enter the competition. All startups that are no older than five years can apply. The only eligibility requirement here is that businesses need to have at least a minimum viable product (MVP). Submissions can be entered online until 31 March 2021.

What are the benefits the winning teams can look forward to?

The idea is to offer the applicants a truly unique opportunity to get access to Europe's premium test fields for new products and to develop their business model in Silicon Valley. The winning team will be able to join a one-month programme at Plug and Play's Sunnyvale office. As part of the Plug and Play network of over 400 companies from around the world, they will be able to advance their startup venture and engage with an international community of potential partners or clients.

Moreover, they will offer promising startups the chance to test their innovation in Hamburg with one of the partners and to get in touch with relevant international players. AM HAFEN CAPITAL is investing what could be a six figure amount for this purpose, while homePORT is making its test site available on an exclusive basis.

What are the judging criteria, and how will the winners be selected?

The team behind the awards have been able to put together an excellent jury with a high expertise that will evaluate all submissions. To ensure a fair and transparent process, it has defined a set of criteria to assess the product and innovation level, the market potential, the competition, the business model, funding, experience, impact and, last but not least, the startups’ presentation skills.. After the submission deadline on 31 March 2021 the jury will create a shortlist. Shortlisted startups will get the chance to present their startup to the jury.

“Our idea with the Future Hamburg Award is to offer founders a truly unique opportunity to get access to Europe's premium test fields for new products and to develop their business model in Silicon Valley. Particularly, we will give startups the chance to test their innovation in Hamburg with one of our partners and to get in touch with relevant players,” explained Veronika Reichboth, head of the Hamburg Startup Unit and one of the initiators of the Future Hamburg Award.

How do I apply?

The quick and easy online application process for the Future Hamburg Award, can be found here - you have until 31st March to apply and all you need to do is follow a few simple steps.

To be eligible, startups must be no older than five years and have at least a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Creating sustainable value for startups

All three winners of the Future Hamburg Award 2021 will be invited by the Hamburg Startup Unit to a tailor-made three-day programme in Hamburg. The focus is on building a high-end industry network and on connecting with potential investors. Plus, an attractive first prize will be provided by Plug and Play, this year’s main partner.

This leading innovation network offers a full month at their international accelerator programme in Silicon Valley. Plug and Play’s founder and CEO, Saeed Amidi, is convinced that: “Hamburg can show the world how a smart city would look like, because business and society work closely together.” In addition, two major players from Hamburg will offer a bonus prize: AM HAFEN CAPITAL will provide an up to six figure investment, while homePORT by the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) will make its test site available to promising applicants. 

To get your applications in be quick - 31st March is the cut off and you can apply here.