Future Hamburg Award 2021: Searching for the best international startups

Hamburg (Germany) / San Francisco (USA), 28 January 2021: International founders can now submit their applications for the Future Hamburg Award conferred by the City of Hamburg. With this startup award, Germany's leading economic hub aims to support innovative solutions for the city of tomorrow. Innovative startups from around the world are invited to submit their projects until 31 March 2021 at www.future.hamburg/award. All companies whose business model has an impact on sustainable cities and is related to logistics, mobility or green hydrogen are eligible to take part. At an international level, the Future Hamburg Award also serves as a bridgehead between Europe and the United States. The winning startup-team will be invited to Silicon Valley to gain fresh impetus for their sustainable innovations and subsequently put their ideas to the test in Hamburg – the real-world laboratory for digital mobility.

Now in its second year, the Future Hamburg Award will be honouring innovations for the city of tomorrow, because cities, as hubs of business and mobility, are facing similar challenges worldwide. At the same time, cities are centres for pioneering ideas and thus an ideal place for trying out smart solutions. Therefore, this year’s Future Hamburg Award is looking for business models aimed at redesigning cities to make them more liveable, while also enriching economies and communities in metropolitan regions. The focus of the award is on mobility and sustainable energy, and the competition will be thrown open today at a virtual press conference with stakeholders from both Hamburg and San Francisco.

“The solutions to some of the most pressing issues of our time can actually be found in logistics and mobility – especially in combination with green hydrogen,” explains Hamburg's Minister for Economic Affairs, Michael Westhagemann. “With the Future Hamburg Award, we would like to make a sustainable contribution to the innovative power of cities. The world's best startups will have the opportunity to test their business models on-site a real-world lab in one of Europe's most innovative cities,” adds Dr. Rolf Strittmatter, CEO of Hamburg Invest and one of the initiators of the award.

Startups from the fields of logistics, mobility and hydrogen can submit their projects until 31 March at www.future.hamburg/award

Startups from across the globe can submit their projects via the award website between 28 January and 31 March 2021. To be eligible, participants are required to have a digital, sustainable business model and at least one proof of concept. All submissions will be evaluated by a jury panel comprising international experts that includes Ralf Belusa (Managing Director at Hapag Lloyd AG), Jörg Debus (CIO & Chief of Staff at Shell Global), Gunnar Froh (Founder & CEO at Wunder Mobility), Clare Jones (CCO at what3words) as well as Markus Sontheimer (CIO and Member of the Board at Schenker AG).

Strong partners for the world’s most promising startups

Plug and Play Tech Center, the renowned international innovation platform, is the main partner of this year's award programme. With a network of more than 30,000 startups and 400 companies, Plug and Play is one of the leading players in the international startup sector. Saeed Amidi, founder and CEO of the Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play Tech Center, sees great transformation potential in this collaboration: “I think Hamburg can show the world what a smart city would look like, because in Hamburg business and society are working together closely to jointly shape this transformation process. Therefore, I am delighted to support the Future Hamburg Award with our international network.”

Other major partners include e.g. the Hamburg-based venture capitalist “Am Hafen Capital” as well as the homePort by the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA). These two big players from Hamburg's financial and logistics sectors will each support one startup when testing their innovative business models at the RealLab HH. Am Hafen Capital is providing a six-figure investment for this purpose, while the HPA is making its test site exclusively available to the relevant startup. Moreover, the winning team will be able to take part in Plug and Play's accelerator programme in Hamburg and Silicon Valley. During its four-week stay in Silicon Valley, the winning startup will also have the opportunity to build an international network.

Acclaimed innovation experts from Hamburg and abroad will be serving as ambassadors for the award, among them Harald Neidhardt, founder of the Futur/io Institute, Johannes Berg, Managing Director of Digital Hub Logistics Hamburg, and Andrea Weidinger, Director of the ITS World Congress. Other supporters include Katja Diehl, mobility activist and host of the “She drives Mobility” podcast. “Hamburg is my home port, and it fills me with pride that my city will not only be host to the 2021 ITS Congress, but also to international startups that are changing the world of transport for the benefit of the environment and the people – because that's the ultimate aim of such technologies: to facilitate inclusive, climate-friendly mobility,” Ms Diehl explains.


Multi-million investment for LignoPure, winner of the first Future Hamburg Award

Initiated by Hamburg Marketing GmbH and the Startup Unit of Hamburg Invest in 2018, the Future Hamburg Award received 120 submissions from all continents in its first round in 2019. The finalists of the award were given the opportunity to present their business models in front of a jury and an expert audience as part of their own expo stand at the 2019 OMR Festival. The winners were Heptasense from Portugal as well as LignoPure from Germany – who recently secured seed funding to the tune of over 2 million euro. According to Joana Gil, CEO of LignoPure, this was also thanks to the startup’s participation in the Future Hamburg Award: “As one of the winners of the competition, we had the unique opportunity to present our business to important investors, and we have been able to build a broad network since. It really pays off to take part because the visibility the award gives you in the international startup ecosystem is more valuable than any cash prize.

Hamburg and the Future Hamburg Award

With the Future Hamburg Award, the City of Hamburg honours startups that demonstrate outstanding development within their industry in terms of innovation, impact and growth. International, national and regional startups with a digital business model can apply online at www.future.hamburg/future-hamburg-award until 31 March 2021. The website also provides founders and interested parties with up-to-date information on Hamburg as a startup location, accelerator programmes as well as coworking spaces available in Hamburg. The Future Hamburg Award was initiated by Hamburg Marketing GmbH and Hamburg Invest.

With over 1.8 million inhabitants, the City of Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany. Embracing the latest and most advanced technologies, Hamburg has become a model region for innovative mobility solutions. As the host city of the 2021 ITS World Congress, the city in Northern Germany is on its way to becoming an international centre for mobility of the future. Digital technology plays a key role in making urban mobility and logistics in Hamburg safer, more efficient and eco-friendlier. What is more, the Hamburg Metropolitan Region is a forward-looking green hydrogen centre in the heart of Europe, with pioneering solutions along the entire value chain of green hydrogen. The fact that the Hamburg Metropolitan Region is particularly suited to building a green hydrogen economy has also been confirmed by a recent OECD study.



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Dr. Anna Schwan, CEO

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Contact Hamburg Marketing GmbH:

Matthias Beer, Project Manager Media Relations

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