Creating the new machine economy

Up to 250k in investment for start-ups or a six-month innovators stipend for individuals: are you investigating opportunities or working on business models for the machine economy? Accept the IPRIZE challenge!

The innogy Innovation Hub and the German Tech Entrepreneurship Center are calling for entrepreneurs to lay a strong foundation for sustainable business in the machine economy. Blockchain, machine learning, self-organizing systems, and artificial intelligence are well underway to change our lives in every aspect. That’s why we invite start-ups and innovators to build something great with us – on all stages of development. If you’re an individual researching, exploring, testing ideas, you’re invited to apply for one half-year, 2,000€ per month scholarships in our ecosystem in Berlin. If you’re a start-up with market traction in the field, apply for seed investment of up to 250,000€.

We believe three core categories will be radically affected by this rapid change: our global society, the way we do business and our changing culture characteristics. How will the relationship between humans and machines evolve as we move into the Machine Economy era? We want you to show us.

Society - Unemployment, safe zones, and the meaning of life

Experts predict that by 2025 robots and digital agents will displace a significant quantity of both blue-collar and white-collar workers. Even complex routines performed by skilled workers such as lawyers will be affected by robots, smart contracts and AI. Recent analysis by Frey and Osborne at Oxford suggests that autonomous robots could impact up to 50% of jobs, leaving only jobs that require complex problem solving or creativity. There will be huge implications for industries such as health, car manufacture, transport, logistics, customer service and home maintenance.


  • What are the “safe zones” that require creativity, high level thinking and relationship building and are therefore less vulnerable to automation?
  • What kind of new products will emerge?
  • What are we going to do with our free time?
  • What is the purpose of life if we stand idle?   
Business - Zero margin economy, new business models and taxation

Exponential organizations that are better, faster and cheaper will ultimately lead to a zero-margin economy. Automation, self-optimizing machines and decentralized open-sourced technologies will make it increasingly hard to make money. This will reduce purchasing power and affect demand in the wider economy. There will be huge implications for taxation and business models of the future. Thought leaders are concerned that our existing economic and political structures – and especially taxation – no longer fit to a world that is decentralized, autonomous and machine-powered.


  • Who will pay for all this new world, if there is a broad base of unemployed people?
  • What are the machine-powered business models of the future?
  • What will the currency of the future look like?
  • What are the banks of the future? Do we need an energy bank for the machine economy?
Culture - Human coexistence with AIs

We will ask machines to learn to perform even more complex tasks, make decisions that we previously thought only humans could be trusted to make and start to provide advice and recommendations in higher risk areas. Clever technology make fewer mistakes than people. A super intelligent system may become more reliable than even the most intelligent information worker. But at some point it will make a mistake. Elon Musk has donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute to “run a global research program aimed at keeping AI beneficial to humanity”.


  • Which technologies will arise to enhance human capacities that we can live and work with AIs on an equal basis?
  • How can we ensure that AI powered machines support human development and happiness? Will they remain peers or become resource-hijacking enemies?
  • Who is liable when there are accidents and malfunctions?
  • How well do current insurance products and policy wording cover these new exposures?

The Prizes:

Who are we looking for?

We incentivize teams and individuals around the world to create a new ethical machine economy where we can all – humans and our machines – live prosperously together. Impact communication, infrastructure, law, taxation and academia and help economy to catch up with the new industrial revolution. Lay a strong foundation for developing new business models and use technology to benefit humanity.

We are looking for early stage start-ups that are advancing our world for the better and individuals tinkering novel solutions.

Let’s make the world a better place

Pick at least one from our three categories: society, business and culture and submit your short term and long term initiatives now. Your solution should be suitable for further development and commercial use.




What is the IPRIZE?
The IPRIZE is an international start-up competition to explore the implications of the new machine economy on society, culture and business. We want to lay a strong foundation for developing new business models and use technology to benefit humanity. The IPRIZES addresses early stage startups and individuals that are dedicated to seize the opportunities in this field to make the world a better place.

Who can apply?
Knowing that successful innovation come in many shapes and forms and need different kinds of support along their development, we wish to encourage ideas at multiple stages of development by awarding prizes in two categories.

For one, we are looking for early stage start-ups working on business models that enable the transition towards the machine economy future. The three best start-ups, one in each category, will get seed investment of up to 250k. In addition to that, we want to support the best individuals investigating opportunities in the machine economy. Two individual applicants will receive a 6 months idea incubation support which includes 2k/month stipend, free Berlin central office space and 1:1 mentoring. For the individual application, no preconditions are required.

What are the application criteria?
Your solutions must be suited for commercial use and entail a short term and long term initiative to make the world a better place. If you are working on a project dealing with artificial intelligence, blockchain, automation, machine learning – anything assisting in the transition to a world where humans coexist with machines – then we welcome your application.

What stage do I need to be in?
Early stage as a start-up to compete for the seed investment. No requirements for the individual price.

When is the award ceremony?
On September 28, 2017 at the UnConference at TAK Theatre in Berlin.

Who will be judging the contest?
Representatives of the innogy Innovation Hub, representatives of GTEC and ecosystem experts:

  • Benjamin Rohé, Managing Director of GTEC
  • Shermin Voshgmir, Founder of BlockchainHub
  • Carsten Stöcker, Blockchain Evangelist at innogy Innovation Hub
  • Bruce Pon, CEO BigchainDB
  • Mickey Steiner, Managing Director innogy Innovation Center, Israel
  • Kerstin Eichmann, Operational Lead „Machine Economy“ at innogy Innovation Hub
  • Torsten Dahmen, Enterprise Solution Architect at innogy Innovation Hub