Convince through trailblazing innovation

The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia is organising the NRW Innovation Award for 2024.

The prize is awarded in the four categories 'innovation', 'innovation2business', ‘innovation2market’ and ‘innovation4transformation’. The prize is endowed with a total of 200,000 euros. The application phase for the NRW Innovation Award 2024 starts on 15 November 2023 and ends on 8 February 2024.


(Prize money: 100,000 euros)

The basis of our innovation ecosystem is the inventive spirit that generates innovative ideas and explores their potential applications. The ‘innovation’ award category honours individuals with outstanding ideas at an early stage whose feasibility has already been proven, for example in a demonstrator, prototype or living laboratory, and which have very good prospects of market success.

Eligibility requirements:

  • One person can be nominated. For example, a scientist or an entrepreneur.
  • The innovation should be in a pre-competitive stage (demonstrator, prototype, living laboratory, experimental research facility) and not yet be available on the market or implemented within the company.  At the same time, initial pilot customers as part of product development are not an exclusion criterion.

(Prize money: 2 x 25,000 euros)

Cooperative schemes between innovation providers and established SME help enable economic growth through inventiveness and scientific excellence.

The ‘innovation2business’ award category honours those who have turned outstanding ideas into a successful business model for product or process innovation. The idea is to reward a combination of entrepreneurial and innovation prowess.

Eligibility for participation:

  • Two people can be nominated to form a pair consisting of an SME/family-run business and an innovation provider (e.g. a scientist from a university or research institution). A duo of two companies is also possible.
  • The innovation should already be available on the market and appeal to pioneer buyers/early adopters or be implemented in the company. The market launch of the product/service or the use of the process innovation must not date back more than 5 years.
  • The nominated entrepreneur should have a significant influence on strategic corporate decisions and bear the entrepreneurial risk.
  • The company that brought the innovation to the market or uses it in production should be employing fewer than 2,500.

(prize money: 25,000 euros)

Entrepreneurs who succeed in translating innovations into a broad commercial application provide significant impetus for economic dynamism and prosperity. The ‘innovation2market’ award category honours individuals whose innovations have achieved particularly strong growth just a few years after being launched on the market.

Participation requirements:

  • Entrepreneurs who are involved in strategic business decisions and bear an entrepreneurial risk can be nominated.
  • The innovation must have been available on the market for 3 to 10 years and appeal to a broad customer base, enabling the company to open up (new) markets at home or abroad, with sales associated with the innovation having increased substantially in recent years.

The company must have been founded before 30 August 2019.

(Audience Award - prize money: 25,000 euros)

Innovations are the key to the upcoming transition challenges. The ‘innovation4transformation’ audience award recognises individuals whose innovative products, solutions or business models make an outstanding contribution to solving transition challenges (e.g. decarbonisation, closed cycles, digitalisation).

Eligibility for participation:

  • No proposals can be submitted directly for this category.

From all the proposals submitted, the jury is expected to select 3 nominees who have a particular focus on transition challenges.