Seven outstanding prize winners from industry and research: Federal Environment Ministry and BDI honor innovations for environmental and climate protection

The Federal Environment Ministry and the Federation of German Industries (BDI) awarded the German Innovation Prize for Climate and Environment (IKU) to seven winners on 21 February 2018. The IKU has been awarding prizes for outstanding environmental innovations by German companies and research institutions since 2009. This year's winners include climate-friendly cooling systems in the retail sector, new raw materials for paper production, tanning agents for leather and renewable energies. Environment Secretary of State Jochen Flasbarth and Holger Lösch, Deputy General Manager of the BDI, awarded six prizes in five categories. With a special prize “Innovation and Biodiversity“ they honored another project. The scientific evaluation of the submitted innovations was carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI.

© Christian Kruppa/IKU
Congratulators and award winners: Moderator Birgit Klaus, Viessmann Kühlsysteme GmbH, Creapaper GmbH, Mayer & Cie. KG, LANXESS AG, MicroEnergy International GmbH, Renewables Academy AG (RENAC), Christliche Fachkräfte International e. V. (CFI), jury chairman Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer, Environment Secretary of State Jochen Flasbarth, Deputy General Manager of the BDI Holger Lösch.

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks: “The targeted cooperation between industry, research and the public sector is helping to raise climate protection potential in SMEs as well. That is why we encourage and support companies to submit their most innovative solutions every two years with the German Innovation Award for Climate and Environment. This is good for the future of Germany, its companies and our research institutions.“

The deputy managing director of BDI, Holger Lösch, says: “Innovations are the foundation for tomorrow's industry. This is the only way for companies to survive in international competition and protect the environment and the climate.“ Producing companies want to remain reliable problem solvers in climate and environmental protection. Lösch emphasizes, “The Innovation Award for Climate and Environment emphasizes that environmental and climate protection require an innovative industry.


The winners of the IKU 2017:

  • In the category “Process innovations for climate protection“, Viessmann Kühlsysteme GmbH from Hof/Saale is awarded for the ESyCool green system. This saves electricity for the food retail trade by implementing the entire energy management system for cooling the refrigerated shelves and building heating via small, hermetically sealed heat pumps with the fluorine-free refrigerant R290 (propane).
  • Creapaper GmbH from Hennef was able to process grass fibers as a raw material for papermaking purely mechanically and without chemical additives in order to develop more environmentally friendly paper. For this, the company receives an award in the category “Product and service innovations for climate protection“.
  • In the “Environmentally friendly technologies“ category, Mayer & Cie. KG from Albstadt with Spinit 3.0 E technology, which replaces three conventional machines in the spinning and knitting process in textile production with one single machine, thus saving energy and raw materials.
  • The specialty chemicals group LANXESS AG, based in Cologne, Germany, together with its project partners INVITE GmbH and HELLER-LEDER GmbH & Co. KG has developed a new production process for retanning agents from by-products of leather production in decentralized facilities directly in the tanneries. Fossil raw materials are replaced by by-products of the leather industry and renewable raw materials, and large amounts of energy are saved for spray drying and transport. The award in the category “Environmentally friendly products and services“ goes to the company.
  • In the category “Climate and environmental protection technology transfer in developing and emerging countries and in Eastern European countries“ two companies receive a prize: MicroEnergy International GmbH from Berlin has developed the concept of swarm electrification, which is implemented in Bangladesh with its subsidiary ME SOLshare Ltd. Existing solar panels from neighboring households are connected with the help of intelligent controllers (SOLbox) and enable a decentralised network structure. The solar power produced can thus be used more extensively and sold between households. Renewables Academy AG (RENAC) from Berlin promotes the markets for green energy and climate protection through capacity building in the financial sector of emerging markets. Its approach to knowledge transfer on renewable energy and energy efficiency and international financing instruments helps to stimulate appropriate investments.

In addition to the prizes in the “classic“ five IKU categories, the jury also awarded the special prize “Innovation and Biodiversity“. In this way, the Federal Environment Ministry and BDI are honoring innovations that help protect the climate and the environment by improving biodiversity. The special prize is awarded to Christliche Fachkräfte International (CFI) e. V. in Stuttgart. Together with its partner Ndejje University, the association uses maize spindles as waste biomass for the production of briquettes in Uganda. The process reduces deforestation and increases biodiversity, health and energy efficiency in the country.

About the IKU

The German Innovation Award for Climate and Environment (IKU) is a prestigious award, which this year for the sixth time will be presented jointly by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI). The prizewinners were selected by a high-ranking jury chaired by Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer (Director of the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change). The jury's decision is based on the scientific evaluation by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI. The IKU is funded by the National Climate Protection Initiative of the Federal Environment Ministry. The prize money amounts to 25,000 euro in each category. In the category „Climate and environmental protection technology transfer to developing and emerging countries and Eastern European countries“, two companies were awarded this year.

More information can be found at

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI analyzes the origins and impacts of innovations. We research the short- and long-term developments of innovation processes and the impacts of new technologies and services on society. On this basis, we are able to provide our clients from industry, politics and science with recommendations for action and perspectives for key decisions. Our expertise is founded on our scientific competence as well as an interdisciplinary and systemic research approach.

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