Impact Pitch Competitions in Europe 2024

Impact_Pitch_Competitions_in_Europe
Since inception, startups need to begin testing their initial hypothesis. It is critical for early-stage founders to receive continuous feedback from the crowd about what they are building, which - in addition to developing a thicker skin - helps them to better find product-market fit. There is arguably no better way to do that than by attending pitch competitions and ever more of them have a specific focus on impact.
The early stage development of an impact startup is an exciting place to be. Even though it is dominated by a lot of excitement and idealism, driven by strong vision and big ambition, it is also full of uncertainty. 
While there are lots of advantages to exploring unchartered territories, it is also important for founders to set the right course.
It is then critical, since the very beginning, to talk to as many people as possible, to test your assumptions, to be ready to change course, whenever this is needed. Certainly, not everyone is well qualified to properly evaluate your business idea, therefore, it is advisable to go beyond your business circle and embrace the discomfort of sharing your ideas out loud with the wider public. 
 
pitch_competition_impact
 
Luckily, in the recent years, we are observing the appearance of more and more new startup contests and pitch competitions, specifically developed to appraise impact, sustainability and climate-tech startups.
 
 

What is a Pitch Competition?

 
A pitch competition is a startup contest, where early stage entrepreneurs present their business concept to a panel of judges with hope of winning a prize, award or investment capital. 
 
There is not one universal format for how a pitch competition shall be structured. Such programs can adopt different shape and form. Accelerators, which we explored in the previous article, represent startup contests themselves, since participating startups compete with their peers for a spot in their programs. 
 
There are many events, challenges, awards ceremonies and contests out there that could well qualify as startup competitions. However, with the intention to limit the scope of what we will cover in this article, we will focus on those contests, where startups need to pitch their ideas (publicly or online) and that lead to a given set of prizes, awards and exposure to potential investors. 
 
While pitch competitions’ financial prizes are most of the time symbolic – even though some of them do provide quite a substantial funding – the benefits of participating and potentially winning are far greater than their monetary value. 
 
investors_startup_contest
The interaction with the evaluation committee – usually composed by experienced investors and industry experts – provides priceless feedback and validation, constituting a showcase for potential investors.
Furthermore, in most of the cases, pitch competitions are celebrated alongside international industry events, which brings excellent opportunities for networking and wide exposure.
 
There are plenty of pitch competitions out there – global, regional and local. Some are open to the wider public, while others have a thematic focus. You can easily get overwhelmed with all available options and lose track of those that are relevant to your specific industry niche.
 

To help you with this challenge, we are hereby highlighting those pitch competitions that are currently (or soon to be) open for startups’ applications, available for startups from Europe, in person or on-line, and which are either entirely impact, sustainability and climate oriented or where these are key ingredients of the program.

 
 

Pitch Competitions and Contests for Impact Startups in Europe in 2024

Overview

 
Wolves Summit 2024
Who? Early stage startups
Location: March - Berlin, April - Miami and Tokyo, May - Warsaw, September - Sofia, November - Vienna.
Deadline: check each of the event pages | Apply: here

Wolves Summit

Wolves Summit is arguably the largest, most active tech & innovation conference in CEE, bringing together the best creative and tech minds in the heart of Central Eastern Europe to network and make connections that matter. This year they are spreading further their influence beyond the CEE borders, holding numerous events in Europe, as well as in Asia and North America. Events will be held in March – Berlin, April – Miami and Tokyo, May – Warsaw, September – Sofia and November – Vienna.

In each edition, Wolves Summit are looking for bold and ambitious startups to pitch in front of our audience and present their ideas. The Great Pitch Contest is a challenge for Startups participating in Wolves Summit. They select the top 100+ tech game-changers to present their ideas, solutions and businesses in front of investors, corporations and an international virtual and on-site audience.

 
South Summit Madrid 2024
Who? Startups from all industries are welcome 
Location: Madrid (Spain)
Deadline: open for applications | Apply: here

South Summit

Initiated in Madrid, in 2012 with the intention to connect the main players in the entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem, South Summit is celebrated today in several other locations in Spain, as well as in Latin America.

The 13th edition will take place on June 5-7th 2024, in Madrid, in La Nave, a unique place that brings key players together to spark progress & business growth.

 
 
European Supply Chain Start-up & Scale-up Contest
Who? Supply Chain startups and scaleups 
Location: Netherlands
Deadline: pending (TBA) | Apply: TBA

European Supply Chain Start-up & Scale-up Contest

European Supply Chain Start-up & Scale-up Contest takes place during the inNOWvate Supply Chain Event, a cutting-edge innovation event in supply chain. The seventh edition of inNOWvate Supply Chain Event, takes place on May 22, 2024 at Movie Theatre Pathé, Amsterdam (The Netherlands). The theme of this innovation event is ‘Which mountain to climb?’. Innovative software vendors had the opportunity between the keynote presentations to present their solutions for supply chain planning, sustainability and visibility.

The aim of the contest is to promote and develop the entrepreneurial creativity and innovation of start-ups and university spin-offs for companies in the supply chain. Stay tuned for more information on this year’s pitch contest.

 
Bits & Pretzels Founders Festival 2024
Who? Ambitious, innovative, early stage startups 
Location: Munich (Germany)
Deadline: pending (TBA) | Apply: TBA

Bits & Pretzels

Taking place annually in Munich during Oktoberfest, Bits & Pretzels is a 3 day festival for 5,000 founders, investors, and startup enthusiasts. Started back in 2014 with a founders breakfast with just 80 participants, today, thousands of founders, investors, world leading companies speakers join this annual festival – sharing the belief that entrepreneurship can drive positive change in Germany, Europe and all over the world.

This year’s edition will take place between 29 September – 01 October 2024 in Munich. Its pitch competition event – where startups compete for the Golden Pretzel Pitch Award – looks for founders that are shaping a better future through innovative ideas and technology. ‍Over the last years, the winner of the competition got approached by over 30 venture capital firms, while receiving massive media coverage.

 
VivaTech Startup Challenges and Awards
Who? Startups from a variety of fields, including Energy & Climate-Tech
Location: Paris (France)
Deadline: not specified | Apply: TBA

VivaTech Challenges

VivaTech is one of Europe’s premier tech gatherings in Paris. Over the course of four days, it facilitates the establishment of connections among cutting-edge technologies, ambitious entrepreneurs and significant advancements, creating a hub where business and innovation converge. The upcoming eighth edition is scheduled for May 22-25, 2024, at Expo Porte de Versailles in Paris.

During the celebration of the event, the organization is running several thematic challenges among wide range of topics, such as Smart Cities & Mobility, Energy & Climate Techamong many others. In 2023, 49 Startup Challenges & VivaTech Awards took place, with +5000 startup applications. Among others, in 2024 edition, there is also an Impact Builders challenge taking place.

 
Tech Tour Sustainability Events
Who? early-stage startups from different sustainability related industries
Location: Multiple locations + Online
Deadline: check for each program | Apply: check their web

TechTour_Circular

Tech Tour is the largest tech entrepreneurship and investment community in Europe. The Organization runs regular events that provide a platform for interactions between leading entrepreneurs, investors and industry players.

Among the upcoming pitching events in 2024, relevant to the impact and climate-tech entrepreneurs are Logitech and Tech Tour Future Positive Challenge (online March/April 2024), TechTour Circular (Ghent, Belgium, 23-24 April 2024), TechTour Ocean (Bodø, Norway, 13-14 May 2024), Tech Tour Water Tech (21-22 May, 2024 in Aarhus, Denmark). Check out the events and register interest, as well as stay tuned for more events and competitions as they get announced.

 
Tech Chill Fifty Founders Battle
Who? sector agnostic (from marketplaces to deep tech)
Location: Riga (Latvia)
Deadline: March 4th 2024 | Apply: here

TechChill

Tech Chill is one of the largest Baltic Tech events with +2300 attendees, bridging the gaps in knowledge, skills, and network. It is taking place in April 2024 (17-19th) bringing international, local investors, founders and ecosystem players for 3 days in Riga.

Fifty Founders Battle is TechChill’s annual pitch competition for early-stage startups. Fifty of the most promising startups from across the Baltics, Nordics, Central and Western European regions as well as the rest of the world will be selected among all participants. Each semi-finalist will then have the opportunity to present their business idea on TechChill’s stage in front of over 200 investors and other attendees. Among the prizes, there is a 200k Eur syndicate investment by BADideas.fund.

 
 
Impact Festival 2024
Who? European Greentech Startups with scale-up potential
Location: Frankfurt (Germany)
Deadline: not specified | Apply: here

Impact_Festival_Frankfurt

Impact Festival is Europe’s largest B2B event and platform for sustainable innovation, bringing together European GreenTech start-ups & SMEs, corporate sustainability managers, and investors to accelerate sustainable transformation. Founded in 2021, this year’s will be the fourth edition and will take place on 30-31 October 2024 in Frankfurt.

During the celebration of the festival, startups will have the opportunity to pitch in front of investors and receive awards. The thematic focus will be on the following six innovation areas: Mobility, Cities & Logistics / Energy, Pollution & Water / Circular Economy & Resources / Agriculture, Biodiversity & Food / Finance, Risk and Regulation / Services, People & Organization.

 
Oslo Innovation Week 100 Pitches
Who? Startups founded after 2020, having raised less than €3m in private capital and addressing at least 1 SDG
Location: Oslo (Norway)
Deadline: not specified | Apply: here

Oslo Innovation Week

Oslo Innovation Week invites startups to the heart of Nordic innovation providing an arena for facilitating actions and thought-provoking ideas for bold and new innovation. The annual event focuses on sustainability, providing a place to highlight solutions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Oslo Innovation Week 2024 – marking the 20th anniversary – is taking place the week of 23-27 September 2024. Sustainable startups are invited to take part in Norway’s biggest pitching competition for investor-ready startups. In the previous edition, the big prize of the 100 pitches competition includes 200,000 NOK from DNB and mentoring from top international VCs.

 
 
Slush 100
Who? Startups from Europe and North America, founded in 2020 or later and with less than €750,000 in equity funding
Location: Helsinki (Finland)
Deadline: 22 September 2024 | Apply: here

Slush 2023

Slush, one of the leading European Startup events, brings the global startup ecosystem under one roof. In cold, dark November, a curated group of speakers from across the globe, showcases, and unique networking opportunities are all in Helsinki. Slush 2023 brought together 5,000 startup founders and operators, 3,000 investors representing +$1 trillion of AUM, a total of 13,000 participants. Beyond the main event taking place at Helsinki Expo and Convention Center, some of the main highlights happen during the hundreds of Side Events taking place across the city throughout the Slush Week. Slush 2024 will take place on November 20-21, 2024. The event is carbon-negative, a proof of its focus on sustainability and positive impact.

Slush 100, its flagship Pitching Competition takes place at the end of Day 2 with three finalists stepping on the Slush main stage in front of thousands of people. The Top 100 companies compete to get there, carefully selected out of 1000+ applicants. 2023’s winner collected a 1,000,000 Eur funding prize from five of the very best early-stage funds active in Europe: AccelGeneral CatalystLightspeed Venture PartnersNEA, and Northzone.

 
 
The Startup Tank Climate Investor Pitch Show
Who? Top sustainability, cleantech and impact startup founders
Location: Online 
Deadline: rolling admissions (monthly) | Apply: here

The Startup Tank Climate Investor Pitch Show

The Startup Tank Climate Investor Pitch Show (brought by 4WARD.VC) brings top sustainability, cleantech and impact startup founders to pitch climate VCs looking to fund world-changing companies. If you’re combating climate change by building the next sustainable development (SDG) superstar or circular economy unicorn and looking to fundraise from top tier VCs and angel investors, this is the right place for you to present your idea.
 
The pitch contests takes place every first Monday of the month, at 5pm CET. Participating startups (usually about five) have the opportunity to get investment from the VCs invited to the panel. Furthermore, they get meaningful feedback though the Q&A session.
 
In addition to the pitch contest, 4WARD.VC also runs its “Partner in Crime” Climate Accelerator program – a hands-on, sales & traction-focused accelerator for elite early stage climate companies, as well as has a Climate Investor Syndicate to allow accredited investors to participate in the post-program investments in their portfolio companies.
 
 
ClimateLaunchpad
Who? Pre-Seed startups bringing innovation with environmental impact 
Location: Multiple locations
Deadline: depends on location | Apply: check here
Climate Lunchpad
 
ClimateLaunchpad – part of the Entrepreneurship offerings of EIT Climate-KIC – is one of the world’s largest green business ideas competition. The contest encompasses eight themes: Adaptation & Resilience, Blue Economy, Circular Economies, Clean Energy, Food Systems, Sustainable Mobility, Urban Solutions, and The Next Big Thing.
 
Upon acceptance, the programme progresses through a Mini-course, Boot Camp, Intensive Coaching, and National Finals, concluding with Regional Finals where top teams pitch to a regional audience. To be eligible, participants must not have initiated a business or started one less than an year ago, generated substantial revenue, secured over €200,000 in investment, or sold products, solutions, or prototypes on commercial terms.
 
 
Who? Startups with game-changing solutions that will transform the way we produce and consume food
Location: Warsaw (Poland)
Deadline: 19 February 2024 | Apply: check here
food-tech-challengers
 
Food Tech Challengers’ mission is to identify groundbreaking solutions shaping the future of food production and consumption, allowing startups worldwide to gain visibility, media exposure, and the opportunity to present their innovations to a distinguished panel of over 100 investors, industry leaders, and experts. To participate, startups must excel in one of the six innovation tracks, which include New Proteins, Enhancing Well-being via Nutrition, Food Transparency, Safety & Security, Fighting Food Waste, Digital from Farm to Fork, and Regenerative Agriculture.
 

TOP-60 companies (10 in each track) are shortlisted by a distinguished panel of industry experts from global corporations, venture capitals, ecosystem builders and media partners. All finalists are invited to pitch live at Food Tech Congress 2024, the leading industry conference of the year. Taking place on May 28 – 29, 2024 in Warsaw, Poland, the event offers invaluable networking opportunities and media exposure. One company is announced the Ultimate Winner of Food Tech Challengers 2024.

 
 
Global Startup Competition 2024 (Get in the Ring)
Who? Startups contributing to solving the grand challenges of today
Location: Multiple locations
Deadline: depends on location | Apply: here

global-startup-competition:themes

Through the Global Startup Competition, Get in the Ring opens a call for global startups working on solutions aiming to solve the major challenges humanity faces today. The broad impact themes that this competition is focused on are Food, Energy, Health, Education, Manufacturing and Chemicals. They open continuously regional contests in different hubs all around the world.

Furthermore, Get in the Ring organizes several other startup competitions . Make sure to check their website for updates.

Web Summit 2024
Who? Fast growing tech startups having received less than €5 million in funding to date (sustainability & impact themes are highly regarded)
Location: Lisbon (Portugal) 
Deadline: not specified | Apply: here

web_summit_lisbon

Often referred to as “the best technology conference on the planet”, Web Summit 2023 brought together 70,000+ people and the companies redefining the tech industry. Even though it is not impact specific, sustainability is a key driver of the conference and climate-friendly companies, working on the Net Zero challenge are highly regarded.

Web Summit’s startup programme – ALPHA – offers the chance to join a global community of startups, participate in Web Summit, access to Investor to Startup meetings, and be eligible to apply for pitch, Startup masterclasses, Mentor Hours and more. The 2024 event will be held in Lisbon, from the 11th to the 14th of November.

 
The Future of Climate Tech GLOBAL Startup Competition
Who? Startups aiming for global impact on climate change; with a team, prototype & traction and being open to raising funds in Silicon Valley or globally.
Location: Online
Deadline: 25th March (for Q1 2024 edition) | Apply: now here

Future-of-Climate-Tech-Global-Startup-Competition-2022

Every quarter, Startup Basecamp holds an exciting global climate tech pitch competition involving leading early-stage startups across 6 continents. Startup founders compete and have the opportunity to win access, together with other international founders, to the Startup Basecamp Silicon Valley Startup Online Growth Program. The next edition (#10) will take place on March 28th 2024.

 
EU-Startups Summit 2024
Who? Early stage EU startups
Location: Malta
Deadline: pending (TBA) | Apply: here

Malta-EU-Startups-Summit

The EU-Startups Summit is an exclusive annual in-person event showcasing many of Europe’s hottest startups. It gathers over 2,000 founders, startup enthusiasts, corporates, angel investors, VCs, and media from across Europe. The event is a great opportunity for networking, with a dedicated networking app, and a meeting point for aspiring entrepreneurs and investors who are aiming to build international tech companies. Next edition will take place in Malta on 9-10 May 2024.

During the EU-Startups Summit, there will also be a big pitch competition with 15 of Europe’s most exciting early-stage startups. The pre-selected startups are going to pitch their business idea with a 3-minute-presentation in front of the attendees and an expert jury of well-known investors. The winning startup team will receive a lot of international visibility, many new investor connections and an awesome prize package.
 
 
Energy Tech Challengers
Who? From Seed to Series B tech company challenging the status quo in climate tech
Location: Bilbao, Spain
Deadline: 01 February 2024 | Apply: here

Energy Tech Challengers Bilbao

Energy Tech Challengers is an annual event part of the Energy Tech Summit that brings together innovative companies working on solutions to decarbonize the planet and connects them with leading venture capitalists, corporations, and media voices. It has been launched by Contrarian Ventures.

In 2024, the Summit is brought to Bilbao, Spain. The focus will be on the most pressing net zero challenges and recognizing innovators with scalable and equitable solutions that have the potential to reach gigaton impact. Top 50 startups will be selected to participate and invited to pitch live at Energy Tech Summit (April 10-11, 2024). One single company will be announced as the ultimate winner of Energy Tech Challengers 2024 award.

 
 
TNW Valencia 2024
Who? Early stage startups & scale-ups (details below)
Location: Valencia (Spain)
Deadline: not specified | Apply: here

Thrive Global Impact Challenge

For 16 years, TNW Conference has been at the center of Amsterdam’s tech ecosystem, gathering annually over 10,000 industry executives and tech enthusiasts to discuss the impact of technology on different industries, and explore how tech will shape the world of tomorrow. After the successful launch of TNW València 2023, they will be back again in 2024. This vibrant city is Spain’s fastest growing entrepreneurial ecosystem — and has the most startups per capita of anywhere in the country. It’s rapidly becoming the Mediterranean’s startup powerhouse. And, in 2023, TNW València is set to bring the heart of tech to the region.
 
TNW Valencia will take place in October 2024 (pending announcement of the specific dates) in La Marina de Valencia. Participating startups will have the chance to pitch their idea at the TNW Pitch Battle and gain the attention and insights from top investors who are actively funding innovative tech startups around the world. There will be two separate categories to compete in: 1) Bootstrap Program: Early stage startups only (founded between 2015-2022 and max. 15 employees OR max. 1 million euros in funding) and 2) Scale-up Program: Growth stage startups only (founded between 2015-2022 and max. 100 employees). The judges will evaluate pitches on investment readiness, innovative market opportunity, the strength of the business concept/model, and overall wow factor.
 
 
Latitude 59
Who? Bold impactful startups with proven traction and looking for funding
Location: Tallinn (Estonia)
Deadline: pending (TBA) | Apply: here

Latitude59

Latitude 59 is the flagship startup and tech event of Estonia, the world’s first digital society. Small by design, the event brings a cosy festival vibe. The 2024 edition will take place in 22-24 May, 2024 in Tallinn.
 
The pitch competition, launched in collaboration with a syndicate by Estonian Business Angels Network EstBAN and TeraVC, is looking for bold and promising startups that are shifting paradigms and changing the world for the better. They are looking for founding teams with a solid mission, a scalable business model, and a functioning product with proven traction. The big prize is €1,000,000.
 
 
Start Summit 2024
Who? early-stage startups from 2021 or later and that have raised less than 500k CHF
Location: St. Gallen (Switzerland)
Deadline: mid-February 2024 | Apply: here

Start_Summit

START Summit is the Europe’s leading student-run conference for entrepreneurship & technology and its next edition will take place on 21-22 March 2024. Last year’s edition attracted 6000+ participants (founders, investors, corporate professionals and students).
 
START Summit is a unique opportunity for startups to pitch their business idea in front of Europe’s most renowned investors, corporate industry leaders, and potential new customers. The four best startups will pitch against each other in the grand finale on the main stage. The 2023 winner received 10’000 CHF in cash and a secret surprise.
 
 
We Make Future (WMF) – Startup Competition 2024
Who? Innovative entrepreneurial projects with positive influence on the environment and society
Location: Rimini (Italy)
Deadline: pending (TBA) | Apply: here

Pitch Competition Web Marketing Festival

We Make Future (WMF) – previously known as Web Marketing Festival – is the biggest international Startup Competition in Italy. Held for +10 years already, it aims to support initiatives working on the development of a sustainable and inclusive future. WMF welcomes entrepreneurial projects working on solving some of the big challenges of the future through innovation. Through their application, candidates are invited to highlight the impact generated by their innovative project on at least one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

120 candidates (out of 4300 applying) will be pre-selected and have the opportunity to increase the visibility of their project, present their idea to the public, as well as to major incubators and accelerators. 6 of them will join the final in Rimini Expo Center (13 · 14 · 15 June 2024) and present their projects in front of 36,000 attendees.


 

There are multiple pitch competitions and startup contests being launched throughout the entire year. We will be updating this page on a regular basis.

To stay up to date, follow our LinkedIn page, where we publish reminders about deadlines of on-going programs and competitions.

 

Finally, make sure to explore our Investor Readiness Guide for valuable tips on enhancing your pitch and maximizing performance on the pitch day.

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