Trail Blazers – the Founder Prize of the SZ Economic Summit

For the first time the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Economic Summit held its start-up competition “Trail Blazer”, with awards going to Germany’s best company founders. 8 teams presented themselves on November 18th, 2016, pitching their company on the stage of the Hotel Adlon. Every company had exactly three minutes, after which the best three were selected to face questions from the moderators before the guests in the hall chose the winner: Adheysys Medical.

On this page we present the winning team and the other finalists – and in future will also report on the second edition of the competition. The application phase for “Trail Blazer 2017” begins in early summer and will end on September 30, 2017.

Trail Blazers Wanted




The competition To this day, innovative founders are decisive for the future of our economy. That is why this year the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Economic Summit will be distinguishing the best of them. The start-up competition “Trail Blazers“ will be open for submissions from 01. July to 01. October. It is open to young companies that are older than six months and younger than five years and have their domicile in Germany. The competition is directed at all companies which have developed an innovative product or an exciting business model and will be held over two rounds.

The preliminary round In the middle of October the jury composed of editors from the SZ’s business section will select the six finalists from amongst all the applicants. These “Trail Blazers“ will be invited to participate in the SZ Economic Summit from November 16 to 18 at the Hotel Adlon, Berlin, Germany’s largest economic congress with over 60 speakers.

The start-up pitch On November 18, each of the six “Trail Blazers“ will have the opportunity to present their business idea and company on the stage of the Economic Summit at the Adlon. They will be given precisely two minutes. This will be followed by the selection of the winner by a very special jury: All participants at the SZ Economic Summit will have the opportunity to vote via App; many of you are experienced entrepreneurs and managers who know what counts are interested in new companies and innovative ideas. That is why the motto for the competition is: “Start-ups meet Grown-ups“. The pitch will be supported by Berlin Partner, Berlin’s business development agency.

The series The Süddeutsche Zeitung will be accompanying the “Trail Blazer“ competition over the coming weeks with a series about founders in Germany – and that on all of its channels: printed, digital, and in the social media. In addition the eight finalists and other interesting applicants will be presented on the website The twitter hashtag for the start-up competition is #Gipfelstürmer.

Apply now

Send your application by 01. October 2017 in the following form. With an asterisk (*) marked and highlighted fields are mandatory.  

Please include the most important facts about your company:
Decisive for us is the date of the entry in the commercial register.  

Please include the most important facts about the founder(s):


Elisabeth Dostert & Sophie Burfeind
Business Editors - Süddeutsche Zeitung