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Rheingau Founders Award 2022

A stage for start-ups and start-up ideas

Nine teams pitch to win in the 3rd Rheingau Start-up Prize

With around 120 guests, the Gründungsfabrik Rheingau as the local incubator of the Geisenheim University of Applied Sciences and the EBS University of Economics and Law was able to celebrate the Rheingau Start-up Award as a live event for the first time on 28 November 2022. After two online events in the last two years, guests from the two universities as well as politics, business, society and the regional start-up scene finally had the opportunity to experience the creative minds behind the nine final teams in person.

This year’s applications once again proved how many great ideas are generated in the region and the two universities. The motivation of the Rheingau Start-up Prize is to give start-ups in the Rheingau as well as those interested in founding a company from the two universities a stage. And this year they were given one in the “New Forum” of EBS University.

In the run-up to the finale, jury members from the regional business community made the preliminary selection and determined the field of applicants for the three categories announced. Now it was up to the three teams per category to convince the jury and the audience at the final.

After the greetings of the “host” Prof. Dr. Martin Böhm, the President of Geisenheim University Prof. Dr. Hans Reiner Schultz as well as Andreas Zeiselmaier and Christine Müller from the board of the Förderverein der Gründungsfabrik Rheingau, the “pitches” started. The event was moderated by Valerie Gorgus, former Rheingau Wine Queen, and Dr. Christoph Munck-Rieder from the Gründungsfabrik Rheingau. In the first category, best business ideas from students or employees of the two universities, the teams from “Mother’s Kitchen”, “Shapeshift” and SMILE conceptgreen took on the competition. While Mother’s Kitchen wants to build a kind of intermediary platform of cooking enthusiasts who want to earn some extra money and the target group of ordering customers, “Shapeshift” builds on modular living units that can be combined with each other as desired. SMILE conceptgreen, on the other hand, wants to offer an app that allows people to plan and experience their garden design.

In the second category, the best start-ups from the two universities, the teams from Ankaadia, Frouple and OneSpot took to the stage. Ankaadia offers a modern IT-based platform that helps automate the acquisition migration process of skilled workers from abroad. Frouple, on the other hand, is a dating platform for couples and aims to help find new friends with similar interests. OneSpot wants to make the so-called last mile, i.e. transport to cities, emission-free.

In the third category, three projects met that stand for the Rheingau region or could become important for it. The first was “Ivy & Mina’s Wine Business”, which wants to connect the Rheingau and its wines with the growing Chinese market. Schorlezeit” also deal with wine and combine Rheingau Riesling with exotic fruit with “ONE”. Behind “Wildkräuterrebe”, Christina Goedel wants to draw attention to the diversity and potential uses of native wild herbs.

After the presentation of all the projects, the audience had the chance to vote for their favourites via a voting app. While the guests were able to discuss their favourites over snacks and drinks after the presentations, the jury – Robert Wachendorff (Wachendorff Prozesstechnik), Ralf Heim (Perfect Vision), Dr. Jan Kirchner (Kisico, Kirchner, Simon & Co. GmbH), Andreas Zeiselmaier (Rheingauer Volksbank e.G.), as well as Simone Böhm (Geisenheim University of Applied Sciences) and Prof. Dr. Mattias Waldkirch (EBS University) – withdrew for deliberations.

And the winners are!

In the mix of public and jury votes, three teams were able to take the first places. In category 1, Natascha Szigat and Marco Peruzzi, both students of landscape architecture at Geisenheim University, convinced the jury with SMILE conceptgreen and their idea of app-supported garden design. Laudator Robert Wachendorff pointed out that the diversity of ideas was great and that he was eager to see how the ideas would develop.

With their solution for recruiting in the complex topic of migration of foreign professionals, the Ankaadia team came out on top in the end in category 2. Co-Founder and EBS Alumni Fabio Enge, who represented the team in the pitch, accepted the prize of EUR 1,500 from laudator Dr. Jan Kirchner on behalf of his colleagues.

In the regionally oriented category 3, the Schorlezeit team led by founder Pascal Engelmann won the main prize. The overall concept of the Riesling-mixed drink “ONE” was particularly convincing. In his laudatory speech, Ralf Heim emphasised that he saw all the projects as enrichment for the region and therefore brought all the teams in “his” category together on stage.

A total of EUR 9,000 in prize money was awarded. A small amount of support for the refinement of ideas and the advancement of start-up projects. “We are glad that the Rheingau Start-up Prize finally got the framework that the founders who presented their ideas here deserved,” says Dr. Christoph Munck-Rieder of the Rheingau Start-up Factory, expressing his great satisfaction with the event and sharing the joy of good ideas from the region with everyone involved.

If you have any suggestions about the event or the Rheingau Start-up Prize in general, we would be happy to receive your feedback.