Research to Market Challenge


The Science & Startups Competition for research-based business ideas!

Does your research have the potential to be a product or service that people and companies have just been waiting for? Could it be more than a publication? Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Test your idea, challenge yourself, and apply to win our Research to Market Challenge.

  • Learn how to develop your research-based idea to a viable business model!
  • Learn which options for commercialization or other applications of your idea exist and how to get the support you need.
  • Gain insights into the entrepreneurial network of Berlin’s universities.
  • Meet experts, valuable contacts in business and finance, as well as other entrepreneurial minded people during the workshops and award ceremony – kickstart your career.
  • Win amazing cash prizes and valuable support to transform your research and idea into a startup.

The most important steps for any startup are of getting your thoughts about a potential product or business out of your head, on to paper, and into an actionable plan for the first steps. With our Research to Market Challenge, we want to help you through this process and show you how to figure out what you might achieve and what you will need in terms of support.

In two rounds, experts will evaluate your idea and business model and help you develop it further. The winners and runner-ups in our three categories “Digital & Technologies”, “Life Sciences & Health”, and “Cultural & Social”, as well as in the special category of “Artificial Intelligence” (2022 only!) can win cash prizes with a total value of 11,000 euros. What are you waiting for?

The Research to Market Challenge is organised by Science & Startups in cooperation with Stiftung Charité, Ernst Reuter Gesellschaft, Humboldt-Universitäts-Gesellschaft, Gesellschaft von Freunden der TU Berlin, and Berliner Sparkasse.

All details about participating can be found below. Do you have any questions that are not answered? Feel free to contact Anna Figoluschka at marketchallenge@science-startups.berlin!

Learn about the 2021 competition’s winners: Press release “Research to Market Challenge – Zehn exzellente forschungsbasierte Geschäftsideen ausgezeichnet”, 23.06.2021

Attractive prizes


A total prize money of 11,000 euros and the chance to win participation in a business model workshop are waiting for the best participants and ideas. There are three main categories with three winners each: „Digital & Technologies“, „Life Sciences & Health“ and „Cultural & Social“. Cash prizes are awarded to the top 3 in each category (1st: 1,500€, 2nd: 1,000€, 3rd: 500€). In addition, a special award for ideas and applications using or developing “Artificial Intelligence” with an associated prize money of 1,500 euros will be awarded as well.

In the first round, we will chose the top 10 entries of our three categories. These participants win an exclusive business model workshop to further develop their idea and network with our startup support units as well as business contacts.

The top 3 ideas of the second stage will be get the unique chance to present their idea at the award ceremony in front of a prominent audience – a great opportunity to showcase your idea, yourself/your team and of course, network with the exact people that need to know you! Winners and runner-ups will be decided and announced by the expert jury at the award ceremony.

Everybody is a winner! The further development of the ideas is encouraged and our support for you will continue after the end of the competition. The support includes advice from our startup advisors concerning all important topics around startup up your company: IP, business model, mentors, funding grant application, access to experts in various fields of business, team building, and so much more!

How does it all work?


The competition addresses students, graduates, PhD students, Post Doc’s and alumni from the network partners of Science & Startups, i.e. TU, HU, FU Berlin and Charité. In 2022, we also welcome applications from our partner institutions (tbc).

Ideas can be submitted in the categories „Digital & Technologies“, „Life Sciences & Health“ and „Cultural & Social“.  In addition, you can chose to enter your idea into the 2022 special award category “Artificial Intelligence” if the idea is connected with this topic.

  • Individual or team applications are possible.
  • Each participant/team can submit several ideas, but only one idea per participant/team can be awarded.
  • Both product and service ideas can be submitted.

Idea concept papers can be submitted including the application form which can be downloaded here. Detailed information for the concept papers can be found here.

Two-stage competition

In the idea phase (first stage), a concept paper of up to three pages of a research-based product or business ideas from the categories “Digital & Technologies”, “Life Sciences & Health”, or “Cultural & Social” must be submitted. In the concept phase (second round) of the competition, the top 10 of each category get the exclusive chance to develop their ideas in workshops with experienced coaches and enter a maximum of five pages for final applications.

A jury of experts from all competition categories as well as from the field of startup support will review and re-evaluate the sketches and nominate the winners in both phases. The prizes will be awarded at the award ceremony.

Timeline (to be extended):

  • March 1st, 2022: Call for application including all necessary details
  • April 7th, 2022: Voluntary workshop “From Research to Ideation” in partnership with Young Entrepreneurs in Science to test and develop your idea
  • May 1st, 2022: Application deadline 1st round
  • June 6th, 2022: Application deadline 2nd round (only applicable for those nominated for round #2)
  • June 23rd 2022: Announcement of the finalists fighting for 1st place at the award ceremony
  • July 5th, 2022: Award ceremony, Max-Liebermann-Haus, Berlin

What kind of ideas can I enter and how do you evaluate them?

Any idea with a clear reference to any research being conducted at either the Freie Universität Berlin, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Technische Universität Berlin, or the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin as well as cooperating institutions (tbc) may be submitted.

Please note: 

  • In order to provide a fair competition, the idea and the concept paper will not be evaluated before the start of competition. 
  • Naturally, your idea will be kept confidential by the jury, the coaches and all employees of the partners involved. Even though winning ideas and participants/teams will appear in press releases, on the organisers’ websites or their social media appearances, no confidential information will be published.

Since ideas are called for in an early phase of development, the state of development of the idea will not be assessed. The jury makes its decision based on:

  • Level of innovation
  • Connection to research and research background
  • Customer value and market potential
  • Practicability of the idea

Terms of Participation


By participating in the competition the teams/participants accept the following terms:

  • The idea must be developed independently by the participants and must not infringe the rights of third parties.
  • The competitors are ready to present their ideas at the final event and to participate in the press work.
    • At least one representative from each winner’s team has to be able to participate in the award ceremony and present the idea to the audience. The date will be announced well before the application deadline here on this website.
  • If the idea or the start-up project has already been awarded in other competitions, the participants must state this in their application. (It is still possible to participate, but needs to be stated.)
  • Ideas that have been or are being funded by EXIST grants cannot participate. Also, ideas submitted for an EXIST grant are excluded from participating.
  • Ideas that have been or are being funded by a Berliner Startup Stipendium cannot participate. Ideas that are submitted, but not yet being funded by a Berliner Startup Stipendium can participate.
  • The organizers assume no liability whatsoever for the statements and behavior of jurors and other competitors.
  • The organizers, jury members and the participants will treat all submitted ideas confidentially. Personal data of the participants will not be passed on by the organizers to unauthorized third parties.
  • The legal process is excluded. If none of the submissions are judged worthy by the jury, the awards ceremony will be waived.

Specifications for the application paper can be found here.

Exclusion criteria

A submission cannot be accepted if:

  • The application form has not been filled out completely/correctly.
  • The concept paper does not cover the central aspects mentioned above.
  • The idea does not fit into one of the three categories.
  • The idea has been/is being supported by a Berliner Startup Stipendium.
  • The idea has been/is being supported by an EXIST grant or has been submitted for such a grant.
  • Any terms of participation are violated.

Testimonials


“The Research to Market Challenge was a very good opportunity for us to work on our product idea and get feedback. The workshops, events and networking opportunities were rewarding and extremely helpful.” – Vera Scholvin from Sylby, participant 2021 – this team is currently being incubated at our network partner Profund Innovation.

“Participating in the Research to Market Challenge gave us tremendous encouragement as a ReThink3R team with our idea, and the proposal, workshop, and pitching helped us further test and shape the concept towards a business strategy. It was great, and we recommend it to any team with an innovative idea!” – Laura Behm from ReThink3R, second runner-up in 2020.

“The Research to Market Challenge helped us to further develop the idea for Creatext and to prepare our EXIST application. The final event was a great opportunity to practice our pitch in front of an audience and was a lot of fun.”
– Lukas Kemkes from Creatext, participant 2019 – this team was later incubated at our network partner Humboldt-Innovation and is now part of our K.I.E.Z. accelerator.

„Participating in the Research to Market Challenge was not only an exciting experience, but also a great platform to exchange ideas with like-minded people and advisors. Our win encouraged us in our idea and actually motivated us to take the step to start up. Taking part was more than worth it!“
– Dr. Laura Schüller from Veteducators (today Vetiquo), winner 2018 – this team was later incubated at our network partner Profund Innovation.

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