FAQ

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It's corona times, does SPARK take place?
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Indeed we are living through harsh times, however SPARK is a Startup Competition which is planned to be fully remote. In fact, SPARK was run virtual last year and it was a huge success! It turned out that running the program over Zoom brings many advantages as well. Last year Co-Founders from all around the world have found together to network and work on several common projects. And of course we also have used last year’s feedback to improve the program for this year’s edition even further.
Is SPARK only for students from a certain region?
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No! This is another huge advantage of running the program virtual. In fact, we encourage you to apply, no matter where you are from. For example last year we have had successful applications from the United States and India. We support diversity and have in KTUR (Knowledge Transfer Upper Rhine” a strong partner that specifically supports the Upper Rhine Region.
Do I need to be student to participate?
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As we are a university group very naturally most of the participants will have an academic backgroup. But we are open for appliactions from all parts of society. We think that Fridays for Future has shown that high school students are not be underestimated ;-)
What qualifications are expected from applicants?
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This competition is designed to teach you entrepreneurship. So don’t be afraid if you don’t have any prior experience. Of course we are happy to welcome people that like to experiment with technology and design and of course you should be excited to meet people from other study backgrounds.


I don’t have a startup idea - can I still participate?
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Yes, that's not a problem at all. Many people applying for SPARK won’t have a concrete startup idea but are very interested in working on an exciting project. We will later connect you with students who already do have an idea in mind. So if you do not have one, just leave a blank space in this section in the application form, however if you do have an idea, we definitely would love to hear it! A brief description of 50-100 words is totally enough but of course feel free to give us even more information.
I have a project in progress - can I participate in the competition?
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Of course you can participate! It is mainly about the progress you make during the project period. That's why we evaluate the status of each idea at the beginning of SPARK. And more important we don't want to undermine your motivation. If you are excited about your idea, you shouldn't be incentivized not to work on your idea just to be compliant.
Can it be any startup idea?
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Yes, be creative! We have no such restrictions, ideas from any fields are welcome!
How are the teams built?
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At the kickoff every person with an idea is invited to pitch in front of the audience. At a next step, other participants can express their interest to join a specific idea. We iterate the process until we have complementary well-rounded teams. This process is very common and used at most startup hackathons.
Can we apply as a team?
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Yes this is possible, if you apply as a team make sure to agree on a team name upfront. Just indicate this name during the application process. Every team member still has to submit the application individually, but if successful you will be confirmed collectively.
How big are the teams?
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Teams can be made up from 3 to 6 members. Ideally you choose people from different backgrounds so you get an interdisciplinary team.


What is the difference between “workshop” and “community event”?
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While workshops take place on the weekend, community events take place during the week. Both events are similar in the aspect of providing you with knowledge. This means that workshops as well as community events are always held to a certain topic. However our community events are more casual and less webinar-like. This brings the opportunity of networking and learning from each other.
Are all events mandatory?
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The kickoff, demo day and all workshops are mandatory. Community events are not.
Where will the events take place?
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As mentioned SPARK is designed to be fully virtual, so the entire program will take place via Zoom and Slack.
How do we stay in contact during the competiton?
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We will create a Slack workspace with everybody on board: the participants, the mentors, the organizing team and some of the speakers.
Will I get guidance and support during the 9 weeks?
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Of course this why we are here! And it’s not only us. In the Slack workspace there will also be the mentors with their deep knowledge in fields like: Law, Finance, Marketing, Social Media, Artificial Intelligence, Environmental Studies, Engineering, Social Entrepreneurship and many more.
Do I need to hand in anything during Spark?
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In order to pitch at the Demo Day you need to meet the three milestones as a team. That is to say hand in a market analysis, create a website (landing page) and submit the pitch deck.
Can every team pitch at the Demo Day?
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In order to pitch at the Demo Day you need to meet the three milestones as a team. That is to say hand in a market analysis, create a website (landing page) and submit the pitch deck.
Who will be present on Demo Day?
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The Demo Day is the grand finale on the 17th of July. There will be many people from the startup ecosystem. Among others there will be investors, entrepreneurs, researchers and many more. This event is public, feel free to invite your friends and family. Shortly we will publish a link to register for the event. As always this event is free of costs.


What is the language of the competition?
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All official communication will be in English, so international students can participate without any problems. Of course within your team you can use any language you like.
Do I have to pay anything?
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No, be assured that at no time there will be any costs for you. Thanks to our great partners we can offer this event for free.
Do you get a certificate for participation?
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If you are present at the kickoff and the Demo Day, and your team completed the milestones we can issue a certificate.