The Amazon Launchpad Innovation Awards can bring funding, exposure and commercial support to the best and brightest on the European startup scene
Europe is experiencing a golden age for startups. Despite the pandemic, European technology startups raised a record $41 billion of investment in 2020 and, over the last five years, the number and size of such companies has skyrocketed – 38 per cent of all global seed-stage capital is now raised by European startups, and the sector is seeing ten per cent growth in job creation annually.
Despite that record funding and growth, challenges remain. For one, coronavirus and its ensuing lockdowns meant startups had to adapt to a completely different landscape. Even without the pandemic, the sheer amount of competition means the best products can struggle to secure sufficient cashflow and exposure to thrive in Europe’s increasingly crowded arena.
The chance for startups to win a six-figure cash prize and have their product showcased to millions of potential buyers could be transformational – and that’s where the Amazon Launchpad Innovation Awards come in. This new competition gives funding and support to Europe’s brightest and best startups – the winner stands to secure a grand prize of €100,000 and industry-wide recognition as a leading innovator, plus streamlined access to Amazon customers.
The five-person judging panel brings together a wide range of specialists, from tech journalists to founders and Amazon executives, including WIRED UK’s own editor-in-chief Greg Williams, and Jamie Siminoff, founder of smarthome security firm, Ring. Also on the panel are Virgin StartUp managing director Andy Fishburn, Amazon Launchpad Europe general manager Aditi Singh, and Amazon head of marketplace in Spain, Ryan Frank.
As someone with first-hand experience building a startup, Siminoff is particularly excited to be among the judging cohort. Ring was founded just eight years ago, and even featured on the US equivalent of Dragon’s Den, before its video doorbell exploded onto the smarthome scene. “I can’t wait to dive in with the inspiring group of emerging brands that are coming to the inaugural Amazon Launchpad Innovation Awards,” he says. “As someone who is no stranger to invention competitions, I’m honoured to join the Amazon seller community in finding the best innovations that delight customers and improve lives.”
“I’m excited to be participating in the Amazon Innovation Awards,” adds Williams. “The energy and fresh thinking of European founders has established a vibrant ecosystem. Showcasing these entrepreneurs and their products is an exciting prospect.”
Any new company bringing everyday innovation with one of their products can qualify, from the creators of smart appliances to the newest ideas in categories such as sports tech, design, fashion, consumables, home, consumer electronics and more. Five pioneers (and their products) will be chosen by the judges to receive a grant of €10,000 each, alongside industry-wide recognition as Europe’s most promising new startups.
The five finalists will go on to face a public vote, with the winner being crowned the ultimate Startup of the Year – and awarded an additional €90,000.
Applications for the awards opened March 1, and they close in just under three weeks’ time on March 28. To qualify, companies need to be based in Europe, sell a physical product to consumers, and be a small brand that’s been around fewer than ten years.
Besides the money and exposure, another benefit for the winner is one year’s worth of free access to Amazon Launchpad, the programme for startups that offers tailored support and benefits to help them reach self-sufficiency faster. From cutting-edge sports tech to speakers, translators and even cooking utensils, the products that have catapulted themselves onto the European stage using Launchpad in the past are truly diverse. And big names have benefitted from Amazon Launchpad, too. Viral card game Exploding Kittens was once an Amazon Launchpad user, as was the Soylent meal-replacement and cryptocurrency hardware firm Ledger.
Launchpad members receive an array of services, from product support and access to Amazon’s promoted deals of the day, to advice on optimising sales and marketing campaigns. Some Launchpad products can even get access to off-site opportunities, including being sold at a dedicated shop in London’s Science Museum.
The Amazon Launchpad Innovation Awards offer winners a springboard to become the next generation of innovative products that reshape everyday life. Its alumni could well be the household names of the next decade – products and ideas that will not just belong in the future, but actively shape it.
To learn more about Amazon Launchpad, and for details on how to apply, click here.