Already for the sixteenth time the GründerGeist took place this year. This makes it one of the oldest startup competitions in Germany. 48 innovative companies at the beginning of their development had participated, eight of them were shortlisted, four finally received a prize: 3D Spark, Ant Robotics, WiredSense and MycoLutions.
The organization behind the competition is much older than the competition itself: The Wirtschaftsjunioren (young entrepreneurs) of the Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg celebrated its 70th birthday this year. In the first step, members of this network screened all applications and filtered out the eight most promising ones. These eight startups then presented themselves after a pitch training session to a jury, which decided who would ultimately receive the non-cash and cash prizes worth a total of 20,000 euros. All eight finalists also had the opportunity to present themselves to an expert audience at Hamburg's Renaissance Hotel.
Third place went to 3D Spark, a startup that the jury felt had huge market potential. Arnd Struve, one of the founders, described 3D Spark as a comparison portal for components. Software determines which components can be produced faster, cheaper and also more sustainably by 3D printing under which conditions. Optimal results are backed by a team of eight and 18 years of research.
The second prize went to Sandro Rabbiosi, a founder who had already taken third place at GründerGeist in 2017, back then with Nüwiel and an electrically driven bicycle trailer. His new startup Ant Robotics builds collaborative robots for agriculture. The robots are not intended to completely replace humans, but rather to serve as helpers during harvests, closing gaps caused by staff shortages and mitigating rising costs. Initial tests have already been successful.
WiredSense took first place with its mid-infrared spectrometer. Matthias Budden, one of the founders, used an illustrative example to explain what it can do. To the naked eye, salt can hardly be distinguished from sugar, and there are many other similar white substances. In the infrared range, however, each of them has an unmistakable optical "fingerprint" and it is precisely this that WiredSense determines in seconds with its Sweeb analysis device. It is also particularly compact and inexpensive. The first market to be targeted is pharmacies, where substance analysis is part of the mandatory routine.
For the first time, the "Better Hamburg" special prize was awarded at GründerGeist in recognition of business models that can contribute to meeting the goals of the "Hamburg 2040" initiative. Sustainability plays an important role here. MycoLutions best met this criterion. The startup is developing an alternative to synthetic building materials from mycelium, the root-like mesh of fungi. Other plant-based components, such as seaweed or straw, are also used. The first product will be absorbers to improve room acoustics.