ISPO Brandnew 2021: How the Best Start-ups Are Chosen Despite Corona

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Anything but usual - even the jury meeting for the start-up competition ISPO Brandnew looked quite different this year. ISPO developed creative solutions to securely network the international panel of experts even under corona conditions. Over 100 entries were examined, tested and finally evaluated by the nine jurors - partly live on site, partly virtual, always transparent and open.

The jury of ISPO Brandnew examined the most innovative products of start-ups.

Keep your distance? At the jury meeting of ISPO Brandnew in Munich no problem. At the end of October, just five experts get lost in the large hall of the ICM at the Munich Trade Fair Centre, and another four jurors are connected via video conference. Their mission: to spend a day examining over 100 concepts, prototypes and products from start-ups from all over the world.

The jury spent almost nine hours working its way through the individual applications. An effort that is worth it. "Innovation comes from the start-ups," says juror Britta Weddeling from the Bits & Pretzels start-up fair. If you want to know what the future holds for the sports industry, you have to look at ISPO Brandnew. Because the young founders "are decisive for the future of the sports industry".

Remote Jury Members Fully Included

Even Corona can't change that. But for the Awards and Innovation team at ISPO, the situation was a big challenge: How can proximity be established even over distance, how can a good discussion climate be created and how can it be guaranteed that all jurors have access to the same information at all times? These are questions that will also be asked for the trade fairs in the coming months - and for which ISPO Brandnew tested convincing solutions: The four jury members in the distance were digitally connected to the Munich jury in sound and vision all day long. This way, the jurors who were present also got a good impression and were part of the discussion.

And it is precisely the discussion that remains decisive in this new format: as at ISPO Munich as a whole, the aim is to organise the exchange between international experts. How well a product performs can also be judged by the length of the individual discussions. For ideas that convince, the pros and cons are weighed up for a long time, the jury enthusiastically fights for details. If a design fails, the process is much faster.

Hybrid Meeting: The ISPO Brandnew Jury was partly on site, partly virtually present.
Image credit:
Matthias Robl

Jury Member Tobias Deckert: "Everyone Has the Same Chances"

"For me, it's really exciting that I can look behind the curtain this year," says Tobias Deckert. Last year he was one of the winners at ISPO Brandnew with his mobile roof rack Shred Rack. This year, he brings his experience as a founder to the table. "For me it was important to see how objective, transparent and fair the evaluation is here - everyone has the same chances".

But even without the pandemic, there is one important change at ISPO Brandnew: The division of products into categories is a thing of the past. No matter if it is a training app, sustainably produced surfboards or bikewear for pregnant women - all products measure up in a common category.

Anyway, ISPO Brandnew traditionally deals with the whole business case, so a strict classification seemed to be no longer reasonable. The boundaries can be too fluid, even to other industries - cosmetics, digital service providers, mobility providers or health and rehabilitation.

"Green Product Design Is Part of the DNA of Most Start-Ups"

Marketing expert Danielle Reiff, General Manager of the Alternative 138 agency, was convinced by the new procedure: "When you evaluate in categories, you have a ranking in mind from the very beginning. In the new form, it is all about the product, the business case and the idea behind it. The ranking comes later - and shows the best entries overall. I go home today with a good feeling."

In terms of the products themselves, the trend towards sustainability is unbroken this year. "This often reflects the life world of the young founders," says Britta Weddeling. Be it apps that promote climate-neutral behavior or ecologically sound materials that replace plastic. "Environmentally conscious product design is part of the DNA of most start-ups".

The jury took a close look at the entries of the participating start-ups.
Image credit:
Matthias Robl

Valuable Feedback From the Jury

Which makes it additionally difficult for the nine experts: Not all founders already have a finished product when they apply - they don't have to: It's all about start-ups, about ideas and their market opportunities. The jury discusses whether there is a need and whether the ideas and solutions are really new.

Whereby the market opportunities also include good design and marketing, says founder Tobias Deckert: "Of course, a lot also depends on the presentation. A good presentation does not disguise weaknesses of the product. But if you want to be successful with a start-up, you need passion - and you can already feel that in your application.

And so we come full circle. Because ISPO Brandnew is not only important for the sports industry, says Britta Weddeling of Bits & Pretzels. Conversely, the start-ups benefit greatly from ISPO Brandnew: "The input and feedback from the competition helps a lot to further develop products and make them really good in the end", says Weddeling.

Virtual Jury Meeting, Virtual ISPO Munich 2021

And whoever makes it into the Selection in the end or even gets the title Winner has reached an important milestone: "Brandnew was extremely important for ShredRack", Tobias Deckert looks back. "Already at the ISPO Munich this had a big impact for us. And to this day customers call us who became aware of us because of Brandnew".

With the jury meeting for ISPO Brandnew, ISPO Munich has successfully passed the next corona test.

Franziska Zindl, Head of Awards and Innovation ISPO is also confident - and is looking forward to the first purely digital ISPO Munich from 1 to 5 February 2021: "We are constantly developing the ISPO brand anyway. This year, however, in a way and at a speed that we could not have foreseen. ISPO Brandnew is our first digital jury meeting. I am pleased how well that worked out. Many thanks to the whole team who made ISPO Brandnew possible in the shortest possible time, even under these special conditions. As the world's leading trade fair, it is our job to enable the exchange of information in the sports industry even in the pandemic, to keep on advancing the industry as a whole. This includes a strong start-up competition. In this way, the sports industry shows that it is more alive than ever."

The winners of ISPO Brandnew 2021 will be announced on December 1.
Image credit:
Matthias Robl

Winners Will Be Unveiled on 1 December

And even though it may feel unfamiliar at the moment - the new format offers opportunities: Through the digital format ISPO Brandnew and the Awards reduce theirCO2 footprint, become more sustainable. Because long journeys to the jury meetings will no longer be necessary in the future. At the same time, experts from overseas can attend without much effort. This would then be a positive effect that remains.

No matter how the panel of experts meets in future - former winner Tobias Deckert will no longer be present. "Next year I will definitely not be on the jury again," he said after the meeting in Munich. "I would like to be back with my own products at the start." The feedback from ISPO Brandnew is just too valuable.

Curious, what's coming? On December 1st we will unveil the winners and the selection of the ISPO Brandnew 2021.