Drive Light & Sight

Show us your vision of light & sight!
Thank you for your applications!

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Focus Areas


Most Innovative Companies


Total Prize Money

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The ZKW Group is one of the world's leading providers of lighting and headlight systems for the automotive industry. In 2017, the group employed some 9.000 people and generated overall sales of 1.2€ billion with their systems used by brands such as AUDI, VW, BMW, Porsche, and Daimler.

To further strengthen the group's innovation efforts, the collaboration with cutting-edge companies is considered a key factor. Selected startups and companies will participate in a kick-off event on 24 and 25 September and establish direct contact with the group to determine the three teams that enter a 4-months long partnership phase and receive 30.000€ equity-free prize money in total as well as the chance for further collaboration with ZKW.

Focus Area 1

Everything from light styling and the digitalization of light to personalization and presentation is sought. Whether it's mobile (front, rear, or interior), static (light infrastructure), or a sense of well-being in the car (control via smartphone, luminous body panels).

Focus Area 2

The symbiosis of light and sight (light and sensor tech) - from illuminated vision to the badest application for sensor technology (LIDAR, Radar, vision) as well as AR or AI solutions such as information displays (windshield, car2x communication, etc.).

Focus Area 3

Surprise us with your black holes substituting light! We're looking for solutions that drive light & sight in the age of autonomous driving.


Application Start
18 June 2018

Application Deadline
31 August 2018

Kick-Off Event
24 & 25 September 2018

Partnership Phase
October 2018 – January 2019

Partnership & Roadshow

Kick-Off Event

Selected companies and startups will participate in an exclusive kick-off event on 24 and 25 September with industry professionals from the ZKW Group. This event gives you a chance to pitch your solution and exchange with ZKW's experts. The event will take place near Vienna, Austria.

Prize Money

The three most innovative teams of the kick-off event will establish direct contact with ZKW's team of experts and, in addition, be awarded a total of 30.000€ in equity-free prize money.

Partnership Phase

A four months long semi-remote partnership phase (October 2018 - January 2019) will result in a pilot or proof of concept (PoC) for your existing solution. Selected companies and startups will work with internal teams from the ZKW Group to further enhance their technologies.

Ongoing Partnership & Roadshow

The ZKW Group will assess a fit for further project development to determine additional opportunities in the automotive industry and take the most innovative companies to ZKW's Roadshow which acts as a door opener to OEMs.


See our responses to some of the most common questions or view our Terms & Conditions.

Who can apply for the Partnership Program?

The Program is open to companies & startups (incorporated or not). To participate entrants must be legal entities (organizations or individual entrepreneurs), university research teams, or individuals or groups of individuals, regardless of industry focus, resident or with their principal place of business within Europe and Israel, who have an innovative technology or solution which can be applied to any of the three focus areas. Individuals (and each member of any group of individuals participating) must be a minimum of 18 years old and of the legal age of majority in their country of residence.

We are looking forward to your application!

My company is not in the automotive or mobility industry. Can I still apply?

Don't worry! Any company or startup with an innovative technology or solution which can be applied in any of the focus areas is welcome to apply.

Can I apply to more than one focus area?

Sure! You are welcome to apply to more than one area, just make sure to submit a separate application form for each.

What are my advantages of participating in the program?


- establishing direct contact with ZKW & creating partnerships with one of the world's leading providers of lighting and headlight systems for the automotive industry
- entering a 4-months long partnership phase
- 30.000€ total in prize money after the kick-off event
- assessing a further fit for your solution in the automotive industry
- mentorship sessions
- participation in ZKW's OEM Roadshows

Which criteria will be taken into consideration when choosing the winners?

The following criteria will be considered for choosing the winners:

- Uniqueness and creativity – the level of innovation in the proposed technology, product or service and whether it represents a significant step forward in technology;
- Technology readiness level;
- Added value, potential and customer benefit (e.g. usability, practical relevance);
- Business model – capability of the entrant to support the development of the proposed technology, product or service
- Completeness of the application form and timely submission

How do you deal with Intellectual Property?

From section 6 of the Terms & Conditions:


All entrants participating in the Competition agree to the following principles:

a) Confidentiality is not guaranteed in any way. If an entrant wishes to keep elements of their concept or idea confidential, the candidate organization should not include that information in their application.

b) Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) between an entrant and ZKW, StartUs and/or members of the judging panel shall not be allowed.

c) Entrants undertake not to disclose any information about the Competition of their projects before the announcement of the winners.

d) Nothing in these terms and conditions will affect ZKW or any entrant's ownership of any intellectual property rights. Entrants are required to grant ZKW and StartUs only such rights as are required to evaluate and judge their application as part of the Competition and to permit ZKW to engage with the winners.

e) Entrants represent and warrant that their application and the idea, solution, technology, product and/or service presented in their application is owned by them, does not include any rights owned by a third party and did not involve the participation or assistance of sub-contractors, suppliers or any third party. Entrants further warrant that their application and the idea, solution, technology, product and/or service presented in their application does not infringe any third party rights (including intellectual property rights). In general, entrants guarantee that they are the sole creators and owners of the idea, solution, technology, product and/or service presented for the Competition, that their projects have not already been partially or fully disclosed (e.g. through public presentations, patents etc.) and are not the result of plagiarism. Entrants shall indemnify ZKW and StartUs against any claims, demands, actions, losses, costs, expenses (including reasonable legal expenses) or liabilities arising as a result of a breach of the warranties included in this section 6(d).

For more information, please check the full Terms and Conditions.

Susi Wallner