Challenges for Tackling the Huge Trials of Our Time

Challenge Days
Public and private, international actors use innovation competitions, or so-called Challenges, to boost highly innovative ideas and find solutions to seemingly unsolvable questions. SPRIND has adapted and introduced this model in Germany. Our Challenges gather visionary teams working on radically new solutions. The goal: To compete in finding the best avenues for tackling the grand challenges of our time.

SPRIND Challenges address solutions to the most urgent societal issues. The Challenges are defined by a clear objective that can be solved in a variety of ways. The multitude of different approaches increases the likelihood of achieving the Challenge goal and tackling these issues.

However, to meet the major challenges of our time, it is not enough to find technical solutions, innovations must be made marketable in the form of a product, service, or business model. That is why SPRIND Challenges are designed to give the brightest minds the freedom to drive their developments forward without bureaucratic strain, often in new, pioneering companies.

The focus is on realizing the innovation

SPRIND Challenges follow a step-by-step model. After the application and selection phases, participants are expected to significantly advance their innovative idea in several subsequent stages. Each stage concludes with a selection round, meaning the number of participating teams dwindles as the Challenge progresses. This process gives highly ambitious teams with unconventional solutions a chance to realize their ideas while continuously putting them to the test and ensuring that only the best teams continue to receive SPRIND funding.
Challenges Overview Process

The process at a glance

– Call is published
– Application period lasting approx. 8 weeks
– First selection stage completed in 2 to 3 weeks
– Final decision in less than 6 weeks, directly following pitch to jury
– Dispatch of the financing contracts directly afterwards
– Financing possible within days
– Challenges usually consist of 2 to 3 stages and last several years in total
– Successful teams receive several million euros of funding
Since projects with disruptive innovation potential often involve high risks that preclude funding by private or other public financiers, SPRIND finances the work of the Challenge teams, thus closing a gap in German and European innovation funding.

With our Challenges, we hope to attract and bring together actors capable of finding the best solutions to the grand challenges of our time. These actors have very different backgrounds; they come from universities and non-university research institutions, startups, or established companies. SPRIND uses the instrument of pre-commercial procurement to enable all these actors with unbureaucratic, flexible, and fast financing. This attractive financing involves minimal administrative effort, can be implemented quickly, and allows funds to be used flexibly. This way, teams are funded within days of the jury selection, which allows them the freedom to completely focus on their innovation rather than on bureaucratic processes.

Innovation funding revamped

Support on the way to disruptive innovation

In addition to funding the teams’ work, SPRIND supports their progress through close support and specific coaching.

Disruptive innovations are often implemented in the context of existing markets and structures with high inertia. Disruptive innovations also tend to emerge at interfaces between different actors and disciplines, meaning there are countless hurdles to overcome before an innovation can be implemented. For that reason, SPRIND provides the teams with advice and support, allocating coaches whose specific expertise are meant to help the teams clear these hurdles.

Does an idea have what it takes to be a breakthrough innovation?

To find out, we put each concept through its paces.


Most teams will not meet the ambitious goals outlined in the SPRIND Challenges. For this reason, it is essential to regularly test each team’s potential and their concepts, supporting only the most promising participants. For this, SPRIND Challenges build on a multi-stage process that consecutively eliminates teams from the Challenge. This way both SPRIND and the teams focus on rapid learning processes and increase the probability of success.


The teams that are eliminated do not leave empty handed. During the Challenge, SPRIND supports participants in building a strong innovation ecosystem, for instance by establishing contacts to other sponsors. History has also shown that innovation missteps can still give rise to important discoveries. Galileo Galilei, for example, was unable to solve the riddle of determining longitude at sea in an innovation contest, but he invented the best method for calculating longitude on land.

PS: Why we believe in SPRIND Challenges.

Innovation competitions have proven that they can be the starting point for radical innovations and profound changes.


Innovation competitions work particularly well for solving big challenges. They encourage unconventional ideas beyond the typical expert and specialist communities and give these innovations a chance to be tested and validated through open competition. The past has shown that precisely these unconventional ideas can provide new momentum in times when experts have been unsuccessful.
Challenges Value

Further questions?

Please write to us at

Challenge Officer Jano Costard Challenge Officer Jano Costard