Our Challenges

Participants of the INNOspace Masters can select one out of five challenges, which fit best on the focus of their idea. The competition is awarding innovative concepts and solutions that solve current challenges in space or non-space industries by transferring knowledge or technology. In addition to worldwide network contacts, the winners will receive technological and economical support as well as assistance in implementing the project.

Each of our partners presents its own challenge with individual areas of focus covering the entire value chain along three phases of maturity:

DLR Challenge 2019/2020

DLR Logo

Acting on behalf of the Federal Government, the DLR’s Space Administration designs and implements Germany’s Space Programme, which integrates all German space activities on the national and European level.
The DLR Space Administration has started the initiative INNOspace® to promote innovations, technology transfer and new markets.

Who can apply?

  • SME
  • Publicly Financed University
  • Institutions


  • Verifiable applications involving individual or joint proposals are eligible for funding from Germany’s national space and innovation programme!
  • Up to 400,000 EUR in possible funding for each project.
  • This funding is subject to the general funding guidelines of the German federal government

The DLR Space Administration is looking for innovative ideas and concepts leading to improved technologies, processes and applications by transferring expertise between space and other sectors. This year’s DLR Challenge focusses on:

  • Cost-cutting and time-saving approaches (e.g. lean production, qualifying of components, weight reduction)
  • Energy technologies (e.g. propulsion systems, energy storages)
  • Ideas related to space and health (e.g. sensor technology, biomedical sciences, material engineering)

ESA BIC Challenge 2019/2020

ESA BIC Logo white solid

Who can apply?

  • SME
  • Start-Ups
  • Research teams, students

The German ESA Business Incubation Centres (BICs) offer the only start-up programme in Germany that promotes company foundations based on technology transfers from and into the space sector from the initial phase up to the marketable product. In close collaboration with renowned partners the programme supports young companies for a period of up to two years.
The start-ups receive financial and technical support as an incentive.

The ESA BIC Start-up Challenge of the INNOspace Masters is looking for new technology transfer ideas and business models from earth into space and vice versa. Potential examples are:

  • Mobility applications and solutions
  • Innovative optimisation solutions
  • Increased efficiency and customer orientation solutions
  • Components or subsystems
  • Or any other ideas in the space sector

Start-ups are invited to submit their innovative products or services for the new space economy and obtain support from Germany’s ESA Business Incubation Centres in entering this future industry.


  • The winning proposal will be awarded with a support package tailored to the requirements of its realisation:
  • Assistance in transforming the business concept into a viable business plan
  • Support of the application in one of the German ESA BIC facilities. If accepted, you will benefit from 50,000 EUR in funding
  • Access to the Europe-wide network of experts, which can assist in both, technological and business-related aspects

Airbus Challenge 2019/2020

With new commercial approaches, Airbus is positioning itself as an European leader at the pinnacle of technology and industrial development.

Airbus welcomes the opportunity to find external innovators with this award, in order to shape the future of commercial space together – along the complete aerospace value chain.

Who can apply?

  • Individuals
  • Start-ups
  • SME
  • Institutions


  • The winning idea receives an Airbus support package
    customised from the following components:
  • Access to Airbus experts
  • Possibility to pitch to Airbus Ventures
  • Possibility to pitch for the Airbus BizLab accelerator
  • Possibility to pitch for a crowd investing campaign
  • Development of a mission proposal (with the aim of a joint application for public funding)
  • EUR 3,000 for the challenge winner
  • EUR 2,000 for the runner-up
  • EUR 1,000 for the second runner-up

Airbus is looking for enablers and solutions (products & processes, services & business models) related to aerospace (satellites, ISS, incl. airborne and terrestrial platforms) which are suitable to have a lasting influence on our daily lives. We are looking for solutions enabling topics such as, but not limited to:

  • Mobility
  • 5G connectivity and IoT/M2M
  • Microgravity Sciences
  • Material Research
  • New technologies and services

Would you like to advance into new realms with Airbus?
Would you like to discover what the access to Airbus platforms
and services can offer to you? How you can interface
with Bartolomeo, KIWI, FLP, OneWeb, OneAtlas a.o.
to realize your ideas? Then you are ready for us, we are
excited to find out what you can offer!
Apply for the Airbus Challenge with your idea!

OHB Challenge 2019/2020

Who can apply?

  • Individuals
  • Start-Ups
  • SME
  • Institutions

OHB SE is an European aerospace and technology group and one of the major independent forces within the European aerospace industry. Approx. 2,500 experts and executives are working on central European aerospace programmes.

With nearly 40 years of experience in the development and implementation of innovative aerospace systems and projects, and a range of specific aerospace and telematic products, the OHB Group has earned itself an outstanding position and is a renowned entity in international competition.

OHB is seeking new ideas for the future space sector: from novel concepts to competitive solutions. Technologies and processes from space and non-space sectors could be exploited for greater benefits in the future. The objective of OHB Challenge is to identify innovative, promising ideas and concepts to support the implementation and use of space solutions. Topics can include smart materials, efficient new technologies, processes and methods, robotics, communication, space exploration, commercial space services and any other inspiring idea in the space sector! We aim at fostering efficiency with increased performance in all future space projects. Unlock your innovation potential!



  • Support from relevant experts from the OHB Group
  • Cooperation opportunities at European level through companies in the OHB Group
  • Possibility of a joint technology development programme
  • Pitch opportunity at OHB Venture Capital
  • Invitation to meet the OHB Group and the Space Community at ILA 2020 in Berlin
  • Cash prize of up to EUR 6,000

DB Netze Challenge 2019/2020

DB Netz AG, the infrastructure subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, operates the largest railway network in Europe:

  • measuring 33,300 kilometres it is three times as long as Germany’s motorways
  • enabling more than 40,000 customer trains to complete their journeys every day
  • when lining up its 120 million railway sleepers they would nearly reach the moon!

Who can apply?

  • Start-ups
  • SME


  • EUR 2,500 for the challenge winner
  • EUR 1,000 for the runner-up, EUR 500 for the second runner-up
  • The chance to develop a proof of concept in a 100-day project (worth EUR 25,000)
  • Exclusive access to Deutsche Bahn AG’s mindbox Accelerator programme
  • A mentoring programme with experts from DB Netz AG who will help you advance your business model
  • The opportunity to present your solution to a management board at DB Netz AG

DB Netze is seeking for innovations from the aerospace sector that can be used to monitor, inspect and maintain tomorrow’s rail infrastructure!
Support the development of their technical systems with an eye towards achieving intelligent, interconnected, durable and disruption-free infrastructure. Partner up with DB Netz AG and put your solution to the test in their working railway environment.

DB Netz AG is looking for innovative solutions in the following areas:

  • Predictive maintenance technologies for monitoring our technical equipment (railway tracks, switches, signalling equipment)
  • Standalone energy supplies for sensors and signalling equipment
  • Rapid transmission of large amounts of data across our rail infrastructure
  • Materials that will increase the useful life of our technical equipment
  • Digital models for mapping physical infrastructure

Evaluation Criteria

Learn which criteria your submission needs to fulfill in order to have the best chances of winning the dedicated challenge.


As a cross-challenge prize, the top 3 teams in each challenge will receive exclusive pitch coaching. Within an interactive training session, finalists have the opportunity to improve and learn their pitches, optimise content and presentation techniques so that listeners can quickly and easily grasp the key points of an idea. The coaching takes place one day before the Overall Evaluation Meeting, at which the expert jury selects the overall winner of the competition from all of the finalists. The goal of the INNOspace Masters Coaching is to optimally prepare the finalists for their pitches in front of the expert jury as well as for presenting their ideas during the conference and award ceremony.

The coaching takes place at DLR Space Administration in Bonn and is provided by Airbus BizLab.

When: 21st April 2020

Where: DLR Space Administration, Bonn

Who: 2 people each per finalist team

Process: Each coaching participant prepares a presentation for the Overall Evaluation Meeting (10 min) and for the conference (90 seconds) in Berlin on 30th June 2020. A training session takes place in the morning and afternoon. In addition, a video recording of the pitch will be made so that the participants can form their own impression of their performance.  The coaching closes with a dinner together and the opportunity to exchange ideas.