‡ smart urban pioneers idea contest.

‡ smart urban pioneers idea contest.

Ideate what’s next: This year’s Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) is all about “Experiencing the Future” – and smart has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to introducing pioneering technology, trends, and tweaks like e-mobility, carsharing, or tomorrow’s urban mobility concepts. Join the brand at the international trade fair, me Convention, or at the smart booth.

Focus on future: the me Convention curated by Mercedes-Benz and SXSW

Flanking the official IAA trade fair and events, Mercedes-Benz and SXSW join forces to host the very first me Convention at Messe Frankfurt’s Festhalle featuring hand-picked experts from the creative, design, and technology sectors.

Over an intense three days, these experts will explore our future through a range of spot-on keynotes, workshops, interactive labs, talks, panels, and art installations plus several evening events spread across Frankfurt’s Bahnhofsviertel.

smart not only joins the fact-packed fun with several speakers who throw a light on today’s urban challenges – and disruptive, innovative solutions – but also invites the attendees to join the brand at its booth for test drives and a round of ambitious start-up pitches.

As part of the brand’s urban pioneers idea contest, enterprising minds get to share their ideas for making our urban future brighter and better.

smart urban pioneers goes into the second round

For the second round of smart urban pioneers, smart once again invites down-to-earth visionaries with lofty ideas to submit their proposals for innovative urban solutions. Following a pre-selection process by the contest’s expert jury, 12 entrants get the chance to pitch their projects to a live audience – in a moving smart electric drive.

The business idea should focus on either “Urban Living Solutions,” “Urban Electrical Solutions,” or “Urban Environmental Solutions.” These 3-minute pitch parcours are assessed by a jury of experts under the aegis of Head of smart Dr. Annette Winkler and the final will be streamed live on social media on September 17th.

Expect an intense competition and event: Following the final round on the main stage of the me Convention, three outstanding projects receive prize money for their business idea – and the winner can expect additional help and valuable feedback as part of the year-long smart urban pioneers support program.

Pitch-perfect visions for the urban future

smart launched the first edition of its idea contest last year, looking for the most innovative visions for the urban future. Check out 2016’s three finalists and find out what they are up to one year later.

Inspired to join the start-up fun yourself – or know someone destined to revolutionize life as we know it? All (budding) start-ups are welcome to enter the smart urban pioneers idea contest by completing the entry form here on smart magazine.

Intrigued by the amazing new breakthroughs in urban mobility and beyond? With plenty of new announcements still to come, please keep checking back for more information on our speakers, jury members, start-up pre-selection – and the ultimate winners of the next smart urban pioneers idea contest.

The when, what and where

smart at the IAA: 12-24 September 2017.

smart at the me Convention: 15-17 September 2017, Messe Frankfurt.

smart urban pioneers idea contest: 15-16 September 2017, early elimination rounds at the smart booth; 17 September 2017, final on the me Convention Urban Stage.

How it works.

Submit your idea
Get picked by the jury
Pitch your heart out

Working on a great idea to improve future cities? Or know someone who does? Then get your head in gear and complete the smart urban pioneers application form below for a chance to pitch your start-up project to a jury of experts and a live audience. Your first (and most important) hurdle: Your proposal needs to be in by August 20th.

Under the aegis of Head of smart Dr. Annette Winkler, the smart urban pioneers jury scans all submitted entries to identify 12 outstanding projects – four each from “Urban Living Solutions,” “Urban Electrical Solutions,” and “Urban Environmental Solutions.” Their final selection will be announced by August 31st, so expect to hear from us soon if your idea has made the cut.

What follows are three days of high-adrenaline elimination rounds (September 15th-17th): At Frankfurt’s IAA, all of the selected start-ups pitch their ideas – from a moving smart electric drive. The three category winners will meet for a final pitch on the me Convention Urban Stage, streamed live on social media. Don’t forget that all the buzz and excitement is more than worth it: The winners can expect a prize money of €5.000, €10.000 or €20.000 respectively plus a year’s worth of valuable expert advice as part of the smart urban pioneers support program for the top project.

Please note: A video about your project is part of your application. You can download the specifications here.

Pick your field.

Urban Living Solutions

Help us make cities even more livable.

This section is all about vital tricks and tweaks that improve life in the city. From novel communication solutions, digital education upgrades, and ingenious future lifestyle advances all the way down to smart home implementations that make the most of the space we call our own.

New Communications

The way we communicate and interact also impacts the lives we lead. Anything that enhances this flow – whether new, faster communication channels, co-creation and participation projects, inspired community schemes, or simply ingenious ways to make the most of social media for truly social purposes – promises to benefit urban community and cohabitation. We welcome all smart suggestions on future communications, citizen-driven urban planning, lateral cooperation models and beyond.

Future Lifestyle

Don’t ask us what the future holds for work, life, and play – tell us yourself! What will our future workplace look like? How do we redefine luxury in a sustainable sharing economy? How can new technologies shape health and education for the better? Suggestions can range from tangible helpers like wearables, smart fashion, or Internet of Things devices to brand new business and job templates, quality-of-life measures, training schemes, and more… you name it!

Connected Home

No matter how small: Everyone needs a private place of retreat; somewhere to feel safe and secure. Or do we? Has the “my home is my castle” metaphor become obsolete? Should we aim for quantity (square footage) or quality (more efficient use of space, energy, and environmental resources)? The choice is yours: Tell us about your connected home ideas, smart metering solutions, intelligent security measures, household automation advances, “self-catering” home ideas or even general urban planning measures like neighborhood-wide synergies between connected homes.

Read more Read less

Urban Electrical Solutions

Electrify our lives with your bright spark.

Unless you’ve opted for a Thoreau-like existence in the woods, your life is likely to be buzzing with electrical helpers. How do we make sure gadgets don’t rule our existence? How can we electrify our lives with intelligent tech, next-gen grid solutions, or big data apps that work to our advantage?

New Technologies

In our age of nascent AI and machine learning, the future is already here and all around us. While some applications sound downright scary, many promise to improve our lives in leaps and bounds. Are you ready to pave a path through this brave new world and point us in the right direction? We’d love to hear how you expect e-mobility, sensor technology, augmented, virtual, and mixed reality integrations, Internet of Things-connected genetic modification, or human-centered technologies to revolutionize life and urban mobility as we know it.

Big Data

Privacy nightmare or promising resource for people-focused future cities? Foundation of intelligent traffic management and new-generation radio and broadband networks or surveillance nightmare? The jury’s still out on the ultimate benefits and drawbacks of big data – but there’s ample scope for pointing these flows in the right direction. We welcome your suggestions on novel data protection approaches to manage huge data flows, intelligent connection models, open data applications, improved data collection and exchange measures – or simply amazing ideas how to improve urban life through the use of big data.

Urban Grid

Since fusion generators and unlimited solar energy are still a few decades away, there’s plenty to be said for intelligent energy and grid management. Yet energy efficiency doesn’t always have to mean cutting back: Do you have blueprints for an intelligent urban electricity network? Or sneaky tweaks for increasing efficiency, improving generation, or clever energy storage? Is the “zero energy city” destined to stay a pipe dream or do you have concrete plans to get us closer to this ambitious goal?

Read more Read less

Urban Environmental Solutions

Make urban life more sustainable (and fun).

Does eco-friendly have to equal sacrifice? Calling all lateral thinkers and tinkerers with solutions that promise a brighter, more sustainable future: from e-mobility and sharing economy approaches to new takes on food production or waste innovations.

New Services

Connectivity is key: It helps us avoid duplication and make the most of existing resources. Synergistic minds are already working on translating tech advances to new, city-wide services or on extending sharing economy principles to other areas of urban life. Ready to enter the arena with your own proposal? Maybe you know how to make public transport more reliable, efficient, and environmentally friendly. Or you’re about to break new ground in e-mobility, connectivity, and citizen-centered services. Pitch your project and join the fun!

Urban Resources

If you think it’s time to redefine the city as a resource, share your idea on how to make urban life more sustainable, without cutting back on creature comforts. Whether your project fits the latest buzzwords – cradle-to-cradle, urban food production, cell technology, upcycling, self-help city, life-cycle assessment, vertical farming – or pursues more off the beaten path goals, let us know how you plan to feed the future city, cut down on raw material use, or make urbanites truly self-sufficient.

Supply & Disposal

From supply and demand to supply and disposal: No matter how we use our global resources – what comes out of our cities after use doesn’t disappear into thin air. Coping with waste, sanitation, and transport is a huge logistical challenge – and one we’d like to explore with you. Does your concept take us closer to the utopia of a waste-free city? Will it educate residents to cut down on waste? Or have you come up with this year’s Hyperloop or a subterranean or air-based supply and disposal route that leaves current delivery drones in the dust?

Read more Read less

The patron:
Dr. Annette Winkler, Head of smart.

As Head of smart, Annette Winkler has been steering the Daimler AG division for agile city cars since 2010. Born in Wiesbaden, the economics graduate led her father’s construction company very successfully for many years – she was named Entrepreneur of the Year before joining Daimler in 1995. There, she initiated long-term change processes, establishing extensive customer satisfaction measures. In her role at smart, Winkler headed the development of the new car generation including fully electric versions of the entire smart fleet and keeps taking urban mobility to the next level by adding more and more services to the smart car.

The jury:
Our experts.

Conrad Fritzsch vom Daimler AG

Conrad Fritzsch

Daimler AG

Since August 2016, Conrad Fritzsch has been Director of Digital Marketing at Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler AG. As a key driver of the digital transformation, he is responsible for developing groundbreaking digital products and implementing state-of-the-art working modes.
Daniel Deparis from Daimler AG

Daniel Deparis

Daimler AG

After several positions in the automotive industry, Daniel Deparis joined the smart brand and built up a business development team focusing on new business opportunities. He is now leading and coaching the smart lab at Daimler AG. The purpose is to ease life of urban people through digital services around the car. Created as an innovative think tank within Daimler AG, the smart lab develops digital urban mobility services and concepts around the vehicle. Services like smart “ready to drop” and smart “ready to share” are two of the first creations brought to us by the smart lab team.
Journalist Don Dahlmann

Don Dahlmann


Don Dahlmann is a journalist who writes and blogs about topics like the future of mobility, electrification, carsharing, and the economy. From 2012 to 2014, he served on the Grimme Online Awards jury to highlight the gems of the German online landscape. For the past decade, he has also been running the webzine „Racingblog“.
Kasita CEO Jeff Wilson

Dr. Jeff Wilson

CEO Kasita

While Dr. Jeff Wilson serves as CEO at Kasita, an Austin-based company developing beautifully-designed micro homes, the housing innovator is also known as “Professor Dumpster”: For an entire year between 2014 and 2015, Wilson swapped his own home for a dumpster he had modified into a fully sustainable living space.
Scott Wilcox of SXSW

Scott Wilcox


Never one to shy away from the unknown, and after 17 years of keeping the annual SXSW Interactive, Music, and Film conferences and festivals on track as Chief Technology Officer, Scott Wilcox now heads up the SXSW Innovation Group. Here, he not only bridges the gap between emerging trends, future technologies, and promising partnerships, but also takes lofty ideas and anchors them firmly in reality with the latest research and plenty of strategic experience.

Ideas ready? Go!

Do you want to take part in the smart urban pioneers idea contest and have the chance to present your solution to today’s urban challenges to a broad audience at IAA? The big stage could be yours – start by filling in our application form.

Please note: The submission phase ends on August 20th, 2017.

For questions, please contact smart-urban-pioneers@smart-magazine.com

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The winners of 2016.

myLike, Cabin Spacey, and Urban Affairs are the winners of last year‘s edition of smart urban pioneers. Check out their innovative approaches below.

myLike: social discovery app.


Munich, Germany.


Uwe Hering, Steffen Schwarzer, Anja Wilbert and Marc Schallehn.


Cities offer endless scope and options. myLike encourages social networking and the discovery of new facets of the city.


Users save their favorite places and share them with friends – or they start groups to swap recommendations with like-minded people.

Crowdfunding will allow the team to implement insights from the beta testing phase and fine-tune the app further. It will also support myLike’s official market launch.

Cabin Spacey - the micro house.


Berlin, Germany.


Simon Becker and Andreas Rauch.


Cabin Spacey tackles the growing demand for premium quality, resource efficient, and highly flexible urban living space.


The micro home is easy to transport, assemble, and hook up to existing infrastructures. It allows urbanites to turn urban wastelands, parking lots, and roof tops into new living spaces.

Suppliers and locations for the first installations have been finalized. The crowdfunding campaign will help to build the first prototype.

Urban Affairs - the urban art festival.


Berlin, Germany.


Jochen Küpper, Luisa Trautmann, Clara Stein and Robert Hummel.


With events held at three separate locations, this summer’s Berlin-based urban art festival wants to culturally reclaim urban spaces lost to the public and counter the gentrification trend.


The program ranges from exhibitions and performances to readings, discussions, and workshops. Each of the three festival days is dedicated to a specific theme: city, space, people.

The locations and partners are already on board. Crowdfunding will support the festival’s realization.