Pan-European Startup Competition Stage Two Provides Innovators With a Platform


Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck is the patron of the event. RWTH and HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management expect to welcome 50 startups from over 20 different countries.


RWTH and HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management established the pan-European startup competition Stage Two with the aim of providing a platform for the next generation of research-based, disruptive startups and bringing innovative minds together with supporters from research, business, and the financial sector. On October 19, the third event will welcome 50 startups from universities with a particularly strong research, innovation, and startup culture from over 20 European countries, in addition to more than 100 investors and numerous experts from industry in Berlin with the objective to find solutions for the major challenges of our time.

Stage Two was initiated as part of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action’s EXIST-Potentials initiative. RWTH was one of twelve universities in Germany awarded in the "International überzeugen" funding line, which supports universities with existing transfer structures and regional networks in making their startup culture more international. Stage Two quickly established itself as the largest pan-European competition for university startups. Amounting to a total of 3.5 million euros, the prize money for the third event is not only double that of the first year but also sees a significant increase from last year.

Robert Habeck Is Patron of the Event

This year's patron is Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck. "Bright minds in countless startups in Germany and all over Europe are developing business models that help meet the challenges of our time in a smart way every day. These great ideas often get even better when they are shared and discussed with each other. For this, we need places where people can interact and network with each other. With Stage Two, this has been created. This leading international event for university startups brings together startups from all over Europe. The competition offers young companies an ideal opportunity to compete with each other, to be seen, to draw attention to themselves and thus, for example, get talking to potential financiers. This is how great ideas are converted into reality! I am therefore delighted to be the patron of the event with my ministry and wish all participants every success!", explains Habeck.

"We are very pleased to have Robert Habeck as our patron. He represents the core value of Stage Two: What unites our pan-European community is the desire to use research and innovation to find solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time and to actively shape the future," explains Malte Brettel, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at RWTH.

The semi-finals and final round of Stage Two in Berlin are preceded by a local university round (Stage One), in which the entrepreneurship centers of the participating universities each select their best startup to compete on the international stage in October. IonKraft will enter for RWTH. The startup's mission is to make plastic packaging for barrier applications recyclable using plasma technology. Many chemical products have high demands on their packaging: it must be very tight and chemically resistant. Therefore, multi-material packaging is often used, which is usually expensive and difficult to recycle. IonKraft has developed a chemically resistant plasma coating that achieves the same barrier properties as multi-material packaging and is fully recyclable to boot!

Tune in to see the semi-finals and the final round of Stage Two via livestream on October 19.