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Google, McKinsey, Freshfields, 468 Capital and Hering Schuppener have joined forces to organize this year’s Digital Top 50 Awards to reward and celebrate the bold and trailblazing work of tomorrow’s top entrepreneurs across Europe.

Since 2016, the Digital Top 50 Awards have recognized Europe’s top entrepreneurial talent, endorsing the continent’s thriving tech scene. The Awards cover the full spectrum of the business and technology landscape. Startups from all over Europe (EU, EFTA and UK) can apply for one of the four categories:

  • Best Technology (Software, AI, Automation, IoT, Analytics)
  • Best Enterprise Business Model Innovation (SAAS, Marketplaces, Open Source)
  • Best Consumer Business Model Innovation (Marketplaces, D2C- Brands, Ecommerce, Services, Software)
  • Tech for Good (Double Bottom Line: solve social and/or environmental problems)


Applications are evaluated by DT50’s Executive Jury, a hand-picked panel of experts, veterans in venture building and growth mentoring. The jurors will choose the winners in their respective categories.

50 applicants will be selected as this year’s Top 50 cohort and publicly announced in September. They will be invited to join the Bits & Pretzels Networking week from September 27 to October 2, 2020 where we will celebrate and announce this year’s winners.

Applications for the DT50 2020 are open!

We are currently accepting applications for this year’s edition of the Digital Top 50 Awards. Apply now to join us at the Bits & Pretzels Networking week in September where we will celebrate Europe’s hottest tech companies.

The deadline for all applications is August 23rd 2020

Why should you apply?

We have three good reasons, why it is worthwhile for you to apply:

1. A brand boost – previous winners tell us that being recognised as one of the hottest European tech companies adds to their credibility and further growth. We are also promoting out winners and Top50 candidates through social media and press outreach.

2. A prize package that you cannot buy - all winners receive as part of their package Tailored workshops and consulting packages, this includes:

  • Two weeks of consulting from McKinsey on topic of your choice (e.g. market entry, growth strategy, sales channel development)
  • Workshop on relevant legal topics (data protection, privacy, IP law) by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Review of pitch deck, coaching on fundraising strategy, go to market, growth and internationalisation from 468 Capital
  • Coaching on Communication strategy (how to address relevant audiences and grow brand recognition) by Hering Schuppener
  • In addition the Social Tech winner receives a 50k cash prize.

    3. An opportunity to network - all of the Top50 will be invited to join this years Bits & Pretzels virtual networking event, giving you the opportunity to make the most of the networking options such as: Startup pitch, Table Captains, Founders Roulette, access to all other attendees, etc.. In addition, you can of course leverage the networks of all the partners.

    What our previous winners say?

    Partnerships & Patronage

    The Awards were founded under the patronage of Mr Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. We are also grateful for INSEAD's and Ashoka's support as partners of the Awards from the very beginning as well as the most recent support of the European technical university of Excellence, RWTH Aachen, as research partner and Sifted and Bits&Pretzels as media and conference partners.

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    Karel Dörner (McKinsey)
    of B2B startups
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    Torsten Schuppe (Google)
    the Social Impact category

    Executive Jury

    We are very grateful for the support of our prominent Executive Jurors in the previous years and will announce this years jury board shortly.

    Harriet Green

    Harriet Green is currently CEO & Chairman of IBM business in Asia Pac. She was previously Global Head of Watson Customer Engagement, Watson Internet of Things and Education at IBM. Prior to joining IBM, she served as CEO of the travel firm, Thomas Cook Group. In 2017, The Financial Times ranked Harriet No. 6 in their “HERoes ranking: Champions of Women in Business” list.

    Roland Busch

    Roland Busch is a Member of the Managing Board of Siemens. He is Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Osram Licht AG and is part of the Board of Directors of Atos SE. Roland studied physics in Nürnberg and Grenoble and holds a PhD from University of Erlangen.

    Mike Butcher

    Mike Butcher MBE is Editor-at-large of TechCrunch, and co-founder of ThePathfounder magazine. Mike has been named one of the most influential journalists in European technology by Wired and The Daily Telegraph. He co-founded The Europas Awards for European startups, the non-profits TechVets and Techfugees, the co-working network TechHub and has advised the UK government.

    Peter Zemsky

    Peter Zemsky is the Deputy Dean of INSEAD Fontainebleau. He holds the chair of the Eli Lilly Professorship for Strategy and Innovation at INSEAD. Peter graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with Summa Cum Laude and holds a PhD in Business from Stanford University.

    Elizabeth Varley

    Founded TechHub, the home of 400 high-growth tech companies in London that's worked with thousands of companies to support their growth. Members have exited to Google, Facebook, Oracle and others, and raised over $1billion. Elizabeth’s been selected for Computer Weekly’s UKtech50, Debrett's 500, Vogue UK’s Generation Tech. Advisory boards: Imperial College, Silicon Valley Bank.

    Karel Dörner

    Karel Dörner is a Senior Partner and Head of McKinsey Digital Labs Europe. Prior joining McKinsey, Karel co-founded and directed eBay Europe as well as the US-based mobile software provider Aventeon Inc. Karel studied at WHU- Otto Beisheim School of Management and the University of Michigan.

    Sandra Fruendt

    Sandra is the Director for Google Marketing in Germany, responsible for all B2B activities. She has 20+ years Marketing experience in Tech companies. Her passion is helping businesses - regardless of big or small, new or old - to grow through the transformative power of technology. Prior to joining Google, she was Head of Mobile TV at Vodafone and VP Marketing at Cocomore AG.

    Alexander Kudlich

    Alexander Kudlich is the General Partner and Co-Founder of 468 Capital. He has 15 years experience in tech investing and business building. Prior to 468 Capital, Alexander joined Rocket Internet in 2011 and has served as the company’s second most senior executive since. He started his professional career as the Chief of Staff to Dr. Mathias Döpfner, Chairman and CEO of Axel Springer SE during its digital transformation.

    Lars Meyer

    Lars is a partner and Global Co-Head of Tech, Media and Telecoms at global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and a senior member of the European technology, media and telecommunications team. He advises companies and financial investors on M&A transactions and other investments across the world, with a particular focus on transactions in the tech and digital space.

    Julia Kloiber

    Julia is a Partner at Ashoka – the world's largest network of social entrepreneurs – and the Managing Director of Superrr Lab. Where she works is at the intersection of technology and society. She is particularly interested in the impact of emerging tech on our everyday life and society at large. Julia is the founder of the Prototype Fund and Code for Germany.

    Malte Brettel

    Malte Brettel is a professor and vice-rector at Germany’s largest technical university, RWTH Aachen University. He founded the university’s business incubator “Gründerzentrum”, one of the leading university incubators in Germany. Prior to his university career Malte Brettel has worked as a consultant and successfully founded the online used-book platform ABEBooks, which is now owned by Amazon.

    Who can apply?

    Applications are open to Startups from within the European Union, EFTA countries, and the United Kingdom that have a digital product or service as the central element of their business and a cumulative received funding below 100mn USD

    Applications will be accepted for four categories:

    • Best Technology (Software, AI, Automation, IoT, Analytics): Advanced technology services or products are the focus of your start up concept. You are likely to have achieved product market-fit in your first markets and are focusing on the expansion of your business to new markets and on further product advancement.
    • Best Enterprise Business Model Innovation: (SAAS, Marketplaces, Open Source) The provision of products or services to other businesses is the focus of your start up concept. You are likely to have achieved product market-fit in your first markets and are focusing on the expansion of your business to new markets and on further product advancement.
    • Best Consumer Business Model Innovation (Marketplaces, D2C- Brands, Ecommerce, Services, Software): The provision of products or services to consumers is the focus of your start up concept. You are likely to have achieved product market-fit in your first markets and are focusing on the expansion of your business to new markets and on further product advancement.
    • Tech for Good(Double Bottom Line: solve social and/or environmental problems): Your business has a lasting positive impact on society and/or current environmental challenges. Your product or service helps promote a sustainable cause.

    For further details on the requirements of your application please also check out our Terms of Participation -here- .


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