ZEISS and KIT Robotics Innovation Competition

Startup, Science, and Student Challenge

  • Win €25,000 for a startup project with ZEISS and €3,000 as the winner of the Robotics Hackathon!
  • Expand your professional network and meet robotics experts, colleagues, researchers, practioners, and investors.
  • Challenge your competencies and make your innovations, technical thoughts, and business ideas come true.

You are a robotics expert or keen to work on robotics questions?

Be one of the selected high-tech teams that will make their ideas, startup, or technology a great success. Do you like working in interdisciplinary teams for a weekend to solve challenges in the area of robotics, computer vision, control engineering, and reinforcement learning? Go and apply for the ZEISS Robotics Innovation Competition. We are looking for students, scientists, and startups, and we will provide a suitable framework to support your contributions.

  • Technologies (Metrology)
    • Human-Robot Collaboration for measurement problems
    • Model based temperature compensation for increasing the accuracy of robotic systems
    • Inline process control (cognitive software modules for the control of robotic based processing operation with a focus on inline process quality data)
    • Precision path control
    • Optical tracking of robot movements
    • Model based path correction (for precision application)
  • Application (Metrology)
    • Metrology analytics using robots
    • Precisions machine parts and handling via robots
    • Sensor tracking
    • Digital Quality Solutions in Additive Manufacturing
    • Metrology Analytics using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
    • Process control and process quality software solutions
  • Technologies (Health Care)
    • Tracking and referencing
    • Smart instruments as control module
    • Real-time control with sensor feedback
    • Reinforcement Learning
  • Application (Health Care)
    • Microsurgery, e.g. Resection of tumorous tissue
    • Ophtalmology, e.g. Interventions on the retina
    • Surgery process, e.g. Recognition of persons, role and situations

Scientists and Students Track “Hackathon”


We will provide a working environment as well as the required hard- and software to enable you to work on robotics topics during the hackathon. Furthermore we will give you advice, guidance and support to evolve your technical approach for an innovation which could be the basis for new business.

Please use the link in the right column to apply for the Hackathon Track.

  • Contact details
  • What do you study? In which semester?
  • Why do you want to participate (1-2 sentences)?
  • What are your competencies and why should we invite you (2-3 sentences)?
  • What do you expect from the hackathon (2-3 sentences)?



Ten selected teams comprising 3-5 students will be invited for a two-day Hackathon session.

Application deadline
April 29, 2018


How You Are Going to Benefit

  • Win a cash prize of €3,000
  • A lot of fun
  • Access to ZEISS as a potential future employer
  • Access to startups as a potential future employer
  • Access to venture capitals and corporate venture capitals
  • Access to ZEISS Business Experts who will evaluate your very early phase technology/business idea

Startup Track

also open for students/scientists teams


Your contribution and project has a technical focus on robotics, computer vision, control engineering or reinforcement learning for industrial applications. To sign up, please use the link in the right column. You will be asked for

  • A one-page presentation with a clear value proposition, problem statement and your area of expertise in customer understanding; also include the competencies, diversity and open competency needs of your team
  • A business idea or business plan for your project (max. 4 pages)
  • A video (3-5 minutes) with your technical solution showing yor scientific methods/solution approach, novelty and impact
  • A short explanation on how we can develop joint and new businesses in a short-term or mid-term collaboration (1-pager). Please also provide a statement, what you need from ZEISS and/or KIT to succeed within the next 24 months.



Startups or founding teams (e. g. student and scientist teams) with a focus in robotics, computer vision, control engineering and reinforcement learning as when as innovations for digital quality solutions for additive manufacturing are invited.

Application deadline
April 29, 2018

How You Are Going to Benefit

  • The best project(s) get(s) a contract of €25,000 to provide a prototype or technical contribution
  • Do you need expensive hardware for testing the setup? This is an opportunity to obtain this hardware from ZEISS for the duration of the project.
  • Become a trusted collaborator of the Corporate research and Technology Network at ZEISS
  • Enjoy the chance to win ZEISS as startup funding or to become a strategic partner for ZEISS
  • Have access to selected venture capitals and corporate venture capitals
  • Recruit for your own startup


16th of June 9am-6pm Student hackathon
16th of June 6pm-9pm Startup pitches and startup winner presentation
16th of June from 9pm Evening event and networking party
17th of June 9am-6pm

Student hackathon and hackathon winner presentation

The winners will be invited to present their concept at the NEULAND Innovation Days at KIT on June 27, 2018.

The Jury of ZEISS and KIT Robotics Innovation Competition

Prof. Dr. Torsten Kröger

Director of Intelligent Process Control and Robotics Laboratory, KIT

Torsten is a Full Professor of Computer Science, Director of Intelligent Process Control and Robotics Laboratory (IPR), and Co-Chair of the Institute for Anthropomatics and Robotics (IAR) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). He is also a Visiting Scientist at Stanford University and the founder of Reflexxes. From 2014 to 2017, he was a Staff Roboticist and the Head of the Robotics Software Division at Google. His research interests are real-time motion planning, transfer learning, and deterministic distributed real-time systems enabling sage human-robot collaboration. He received the Early Career Award and the Distinguished Service Award of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.


Christian Roth

Managing Partner + VC Investor, LEA Partners

Christian is an entrepreneur and VC-investor from Karlsruhe, Germany.
LEA Partners is an entrepreneurial-minded multi-stage private equity firm investing in growth technology and software companies that are driving transformative change in their industries. Founded in 2002, LEA has advised on the investment of over 300 million EUR in more than 40 companies. Operating out of Karlsruhe, one of Europe's largest IT clusters, its mission is to fund and support visionary founders and executives by leveraging them with practical, hands-on growth expertise to achieve market leadership.

Christian joined LEA Partners in 2016
Prior to joining LEA, Christian founded BEONTRA, a B2B Enterprise SaaS company focusing on supporting airports in optimizing their operations efficiency and retail activities. He developed the company into the leader for airport planning & optimization software, serving 60+ global leading airport operators. Christian exited BEONTRA to Lockheed Martin in 2014.


Dr. Danny Krautz

Senior Manager New Venture, Carl Zeiss AG

Dr. Danny Krautz works as Senior Manager New Venture at Carl Zeiss AG. Danny works on the innovation and venture strategy with a focus on software related technologies such as digital quality manufacturing solution, AR/VR, Computer Vision, Machine Learning and AI. Part of his job is also the preparation of investment decisions (business/ technical due diligence), milestones identification, and term sheet negotiations.


Dr. Sven Schmid-Rohr

CEO, Artiminds

After completing his Ph.D. in engineering at KIT with a focus on artificial intelligence for service robots, Sven co-founded the KIT spin-off ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH and has served as its CEO since 2013. He was named one of "Germany's Top 40 Entrepreneurs under 40" by the business magazine Capital in 2016 and again in 2017. He consults with politicians on issues affecting the future, including with Winfried Kretschmann, the Minister President of the state of Baden-Württemberg, and on the national level in the Startups committee of the Economic Council.


Dr. Christoph Hauger

Got questions

Your contact

Application or request

Danny Krautz