Deadline: April 3, 2023

The annual ISC3 Innovation Challenge is thematically oriented along a once-per-year selected focus topic. Start-ups globally are invited to contend for a total of 25,000 EUR in prize money with their innovative ideas that are revolving around the ongoing year’s focus topic.

The ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2023 has the topic “Sustainable Chemistry and Agriculture“. The current fourth Innovation Challenge addresses innovators developing solutions in the field of Sustainable Chemistry and Agriculture with the following subtopics:

  • Fertilizers: efficient use of organic and inorganic fertilizers; avoidance of over-fertilization with potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus; supply and use of alternative fertilizers and further solutions for replenishing soil fertility and maintaining or re-establishing soil health (incl. CO2 sequestration)
  • Nutrient recovery in soil, plants, feedstocks, products, etc. (such as secondary nutrients in plants, e.g.)
  • Precision farming: use of digitalization and automation for resource-efficient farming; point application of fertilizers, pesticides, and water
  • Crop protection: production and use of natural biocides /biopesticides; benign substitutes for pesticides; biocide leasing as a business model
  • Water: Intelligent water supply; water harvesting, avoidance of water contamination with fertilizers
  • Renewable energy and agriculture: use for desalination to provide fresh water; ammonia synthesis with green hydrogen
  • Valorization of agricultural waste: circularity approaches in agriculture
  • Shelf-life extension solutions for fruits, vegetables, seeds, etc.
  • Solutions fostering reduced externalized costs (biodiversity loss, drinking water pollution, soil compaction, erosion, etc.)


Five finalists will receive:

  • Tailored support: access to Global Start-up Service Customised Support
  • Visibility: promotion of your innovation via ISC3 communication channels
  • Cash prizes: the overall Innovation Challenge Winner will receive a cash prize of €15,000.
  • The two separate categories “Best Social Impact” and “Best Regional Impact” are endowed with cash prizes amounting to €5,000 each.


  • Open to all innovators and entrepreneurs, i.e., persons owning or representing the proposed innovation, employed by organizations including research institutes, start-ups, small-medium sized enterprises, or comparable institutions active in the development and realization of sustainable chemistry solutions.
  • Enterprises participating in the challenge shall have a staff headcount not exceeding 50 (full-time equivalent) and an annual turnover of max. 10 million Euro.
  • Enterprises majority-owned by large enterprises are not eligible for the award, except for innovations leading to the creation of independent spin-offs.
  • Proposals submitted by innovators and entrepreneurs from developing countries and tackling challenges in developing countries are considered particularly important.
  • Female entrepreneurs are specifically encouraged to submit a proposal.

Assessment Criteria

The proposals will be assessed against the three main criteria:

  • Innovation level: is the innovation unique, distinct, and truly original?
  • Business viability: What is the market potential of the innovation?
  • Sustainability: What is the sustainability impact of the innovation?


Applications are organized in two stages. First stage application deadline by April 3, 2023, and the second stage application deadline by May 31, 2023; at 0:00 am CEST.


Click Here To Apply

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