Your Challenge:

Hello all you innovative people with radical new ideas!
We need breakthrough innovations to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, sustainably, economically and at scale. We need you.

Since the industrial revolution, humanity has extracted and burned enormous amounts of carbon in the form of oil, coal or natural gas. The greenhouse gases released in the process are dramatically changing the lives of people around the world. Weather extremes and their effects, such as droughts, floods or wildfires, are on the rise. They destroy livelihoods and threaten people's health, lives and well-being. The global community agrees: global warming must be limited to less than two degrees Celsius compared to the level before the beginning of industrial era. That is why countries like Germany have formulated goals and steps on how they want to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the coming years and decades. And indeed, there is progress. Emissions are falling - but so far far too slowly.

Climate experts agree: reducing CO2 emissions in itself will not be enough. We must also remove enormous amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and thus reverse past emissions. Innovators from all over the world have already shown that this is technically possible. However, these methods are immensely expensive, often energy-intensive and frequently fail to scale.

That's why we invited innovators to join this future-relevant challenge at the beginning of 2022 - to develop a solution in the fight against climate change that removes CO2 from the atmosphere in the long term, is scalable and can be implemented in an economic business model.

The challenge: To remove large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere over the long term and bind them economically in products.

The way in which our Challenge teams achieve this goal, the technological basis on which CO2 is extracted from the atmosphere, is up to them, be it via direct air capture, bioenergy with carbon capture, processing of organic materials or any other method. They demonstrate how they turn atmospheric CO2 into raw materials or products that sequester carbon for decades; and how the process from CO2 capture to the produced raw material or product is or may be economically viable. To contribute to the fight against climate change, it must also be able to be implemented at scale.

»Without breakthrough innovations, we cannot sufficiently reduce the CO2 content of the atmosphere. As a result, we are in danger of missing our climate goals. The SPRIND Challenge is our chance for a breakthrough.«

Carlos Härtel, Chief Technology Officer, Climeworks

Carlos Härtel, Chief Technology Officer, Climeworks

We support: Disruptive innovations

Participating in the Challenge will push the teams to comprehensively stress-test their idea. We therefore provide intensive and individual support. This includes funding the teams as well as individual support from a Challenge coach, who has significant experience in the Challenge area and has already implemented high-impact innovations.

In the first year of the Challenge, SPRIND will fund the teams’ work with up to 600,000 euros. In the further course of the Challenge, this funding may be higher. We provide funding quickly and unbureaucratically, so that the teams can concentrate fully on their innovations. At the end of the first stage of the Challenge, the jury decides which teams will continue to participate in the Challenge based on interim evaluations. As finalists, these teams will have the opportunity to comprehensively demonstrate their breakthrough.

Thinking one step further: Ideas with the potential for a breakthrough must be brought to market for the benefit of people and planet. That is why SPRIND continues to support projects with breakthrough potential even after the Challenge has formally finished.

At the end of April 2022, our jury chose five teams from over 60 submissions. These five teams have entered the Challenge.

The Teams

The Jury

Our jury of scientists and science entrepreneurs has selected the teams that have what it takes to implement breakthrough innovations.
Mark Hartney

Mark Hartney

Anne Lamp

Anne Lamp

Carlos Härtel

Carlos Härtel

Henrik Pontzen

Henrik Pontzen


Do you have any questions about the Challenge? Write to us at
Jano Costard Jano Costard, Challenge Officer


February 28, 2022

What is an "Innovation Challenge"? What role is played by competition and cooperation? And what are the current SPRIND challenges about? Our host Thomas Ramge asks: Dr. Diane Seimetz, co-founder of Biopharma Excellence and innovation coach, and Dr. Jano Costard, Challenge Officer of the Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation.

Listen to the episode (in German).
To watch Breaking Lab's YouTube video, click here. (in German)

Breaking Lab reports on the challenge