What do I agree to if I participate in the HTW Startup challenge?

1. the following applies to the finalists: Personal participation in the award ceremony on 16.04.23 (from 5 pm). Participation via Zoom is not possible. Please block this date in your diary now. We will inform you by 22.03.23 at the latest via the first contact email address in the online form whether you are a finalist and will invite you to the final.

2. your data will be collected and stored when you enter the competition 

3. your application will be saved and will end up in our hands and those of the jury. We and the jury undertake to maintain confidentiality.

4. your business model is your intellectual property. 

5. award ceremonies are public events. If you take part in an award ceremony, you must therefore be prepared for photos and film footage to be taken and published. 

6. the winners will be professionally photographed on the day of the award ceremony and announced via our social media channels and those of our partners. We also need a (general) description of your innovative project.

Until when can I apply?

We are accepting video applications until midnight on 14 March. The link to the application will be activated on our website on 29 February.

How can I apply?

You apply with your pitch video (max. one minute). In the second round, finalists will be asked to fill out a questionnaire.

Do I have to have a team?

No. You can participate as an individual.

However, you cannot manage your startup journey alone! In order to build a startup, you need strong partners, so your team spirit is expressly desired! Also note that usually only teams can be funded by startup grants such as the EXIST startup grant or the Berlin startup grant.

Do I have to be a member of HTW Berlin?

No. You don't have to be a student, graduate or employee of HTW Berlin to take part. However, the condition is that you want to belong to the HTW community.

Do I have to live in Berlin?

No. Your place of residence is not decisive for your participation.

Our EXIST programs and master phase of the InnoTechTrack are at least partially based on local presence, e.g. by using our InnoTechLabs and co-working. Participation can also be done remotely.

If you are interested in the Berlin startup scholarship at the HTW Berlin, you should consider moving to Berlin in the near future. It is mandatory to have a place of residence in Berlin during the funding phase and to locate your startup project in Berlin.

Do I have to speak German?

Applications and pitches can be submitted in German and English. The final will be held in both English and German.

Our programmes are offered in German and English.

I already have a startup. Can I still participate?

Yes. Founders are of course very welcome!

I am already participating in an incubator program. Can I still participate?

Yes. It is important to us that you want to be part of the HTW community. But that doesn't stand in the way of your promotion. So after the HTW Startup Challenge, let's see how we could support you.

What does your business model need?

Your business model must be innovative and feasible - you should be able to convince our jury of that. It would also be an advantage if your business is related to the research fields of the HTWOf course, your idea is ethically and morally justifiable, we assume that.

Will my idea stay secret if I take part in the competition?

We treat your project as confidential information for an indefinite period. This also applies if you take part in our programs.

However, you don't have to reveal every detail of your startup business to convince us! If there is an innovative core for which you would like to register property rights, you must do so before you publish any relevant information.

Please note that we will publish a portrait of the winners and for this we need a general description of your innovative solution.

What can I win? What do I get from participating?

  • Female Founder Prize of the Berliner Sparkasse - € 10,000
  • HTW Startup Prize - € 5,000
  • EXIST Women - € 3,000 per scholarship holder

Professional feedback on your project from our expert jury and an invitation to the final on 16.04.24.

On the day of the award ceremony (16 April), you can gain stage experience with your pitch and exchange ideas with the jury members, coaches and our network after the award ceremony. We highly recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity for direct feedback.

Talented applications that did not make it to the finalists will receive an invitation to the award ceremony, a great opportunity to network and get to know the HTW start-up area! 

The winners will be professionally photographed on the HTW Berlin campus and will be featured on our social media channels. Our cooperation partner Berliner Sparkasse will also publish an article about the winners.

What else? Hopefully fun!


Can I apply for a specific prize category?

Female Founder Startups apply for the Female Founder Prize worth €10,000. All others have a chance to win the HTW Startup Prize worth €5,000.

It is not possible to apply for the EXIST Women Prize. The participating universities nominate female scholarship holders and the mentors select a female founder.

Who determines the winners (teams)?

The experienced startup coaches from HTW Startup will make a pre-selection from the applications, which will be invited to the final on 16 April and thus also to the Startup Rally, as well as the three best Female Founder teams, who will be allowed to pitch for €10,000. The expert jury will select the winner of the Female Founder Award.

For the EXIST Women Prize, the participating universities nominate scholarship holders and the mentors select a female founder whom they would like to support with €3,000

According to which selection criteria are the winners (teams) selected?

What will be important to us and the expert jury and what you should pay attention to in your pitch is that you present your startup business to us in a coherent way. What drives you? Where are you now and where do you see yourself in the foreseeable future? So, pick us up and take us on your startup journey!

In addition to your convincing presentation, the following criteria will be taken into account:

  • a new core of the idea (innovation)
  • Feasibility, scalability
  • Social relevance of the solution (problem solving)
  • Relation to HTW Berlin and/or the technology fields of the HTW Startup
  • Team
  • if applicable, your pitch at the award ceremony for the audience award

How do I find out that I have won?

The application phase ends on 14.03.24. We will then review the applications and invite a shortlist to the final on 16.04. by email. We will inform those who did not make it by e-mail.

How and when will the prize money be paid out?

The winners (teams) will receive the prize money within one month after the award ceremony to the account details of the first contact.

Is the prize money at my free disposal?

Yes. You can spend your winnings however you want. There are no conditions attached to it.

What happens with my data?

The personal data of the participants will be saved in our database. Especially the data of the winners could be published and passed on to cooperation partners. These data are not used for commercial purposes but used exclusively for public relations! After the competition the data of all participants will be deleted from our database. The winners are publicly accessible until further notice.

Can I withdraw my application and delete my cause data?

Yes. Please send us an email to claudia.duenckmann@htw-berlin.de. We will delete your application and your data from our system and send you a confirmation.

How long are the pitches for the Female Founder Award at the final on 16 April?

In a 3-minute pitch, the female founders have to convince the jury of their idea. This is followed by a 5-minute QA round where the jury can ask questions.

Who do I contact if I have further questions about the competition?

Please send an email to claudia.duenckmann@htw-berlin.de. Do you have questions about the content of your business model and would you like advice from a coach, come to an Open Office.


In case you don't find what you are looking for here, please talk to us or send us an email. We will be happy to help you!