ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa 

Which will be the best cybersecurity startup in Germany, Austria and Switzerland?

Join the ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa! The most important startup award for cyber startups in the DACH region is entering its fifth round.

Initiated by:

UP22@it-sa Award | The Initiators

ATHENE (Digital Hub Cybersecurity)

ATHENE, the National Research Centre for Applied Cybersecurity and Europe's largest centre in this field, is also a co-name sponsor for the first time this year. Through its Digital Hub Cybersecurity project, it supports cybersecurity from the very beginning with know-how, transfer and access to startups in the DACH region.

IT-Sicherheitscluster e. V. 

The IT-Sicherheitscluster e. V. is one of the three award initiators and has contributed significantly with its national and international network from the very beginning. As a comprehensive provider of know-how in questions of information security, safety and security, the cluster is also a contact for startups in the IT security domain beyond the time frame of the award.  

it-sa 365 

Through its dialogue platform it-sa365 the NürnbergMesse, as a co-initiator, is providing significant support, for example with free Company & Product packages for the ten nominated startups, the organisation of the pitches and the framework of the award ceremony at it-sa 2022, and the communication of the award via its channels.



The application deadline has been extended until 4 July 2022, 11:59 pm.

Who can participate?

The ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa is open to startups from Germany, Austria and Switzerland that deal with IT security or data protection. Prerequisite: Your company has been founded, already has its first customers and is not older than five years (founded in 2017 or later). 

How to apply?

Simply download the application form, fill it out and upload it here together with a pitch presentation (max. 10 slides) and - optionally - a video from 2 May 2022 onwards. In the table you can see what content your pitch presentation should contain. Your video can be up to 60 seconds long. You can upload a total of 10 MB.  

UP22 Award | Pitch Presentation

Main prize worth €10,000

The best cybersecurity startup in 2022 will win five days of coaching and mentoring specifically tailored to its needs and will receive special conditions for participation in the Startup Area at it-sa 2023 worth a total of €10,000. All nominated startups can present and network at it-sa365 free of charge for one year with the Company & Product Package.

Nominated by the jury - voted for by the audience

Take part in the vote! On 22 September, the professional audience will vote for the winner. You want to submit your vote? Block the date now.

Our jury will select ten startups from all the applications. These will then present themselves to the professional audience, experts and investors. They can collect votes from the beginning of September until the live pitch event on 22 September. The votes collected until then will be added to the votes given by the audience during the live pitch event. This is how the audience decides who wins the ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa. 
To win, you have to convince the audience with the overall package of your team, innovation and business model.

The award ceremony and supporting programme will take place on 27 October at it-sa 2022! 

UP22 Award | Timeline Graphic

Our offer


At the end of the competition, the winning team not only holds the trophy in its hands, but also benefits from five days of coaching and mentoring specially tailored to its needs. We will work with you to identify topics that will help you move forward. Tell us what you need, and we will work out the best format with you. 


Network with Europe's cybersecurity industry. Use the virtual pitch event to increase your visibility. Present yourself at it-sa365 with the free Company & Product Package. Network at the show and make valuable business contacts. Continue to network with Germany's research community.


The ten nominated startups are part of it-sa365! You will be featured on the platform and homepage of the ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa, in the social media channels, public relations, a video as well as in an online brochure.

Four winners - four success stories - four reasons to participate

UP@it-sa-Award | Winner UP21 - XingSys

Winner of the UP21@it-sa Award

Markus Hertlein | Managing Director XignSys

"XignSys was named the best cybersecurity startup in the DACH region by winning the UP21@it-sa Award. The award is something very special for us, not least because we were able to prevail against strong competitors. The award was accompanied by an exclusive supporting programme at it-sa, which enabled us to meet important decision-makers from politics and business. The UP@it-sa Award is one of the most sustainable awards!
Mirko Ross, asvin - Winner UP20@it-sa Award

Winner of the UP20@it-sa Award

Mirko Ross | Managing Director asvin

"I am impressed by the quality of the submissions and presentation of the last four years. Germany has something to offer in terms of excellent cybersecurity startups! So, it's worth watching the finals." 
UP@it-sa-Award | Winner UP19 - Alex Christophe

Winner of the UP19@it-sa Award 

Alex Christophe | Sales Director IDEE

"The ATHENE Startup Award UP@it-sa is a great opportunity to compete with the best cybersecurity startups in the DACH region, but also to learn from each other and grow yourself! My strong recommendation: apply!"

IT-Seal,  Winner of the UP18@it-sa Award

Winners of the UP18@it-sa Award

Alex Wyllie & David Kelm | Managing Directors IT-Seal

"Dear entrepreneurs, cybersecurity will shape our future, and your innovations are shaping part of that future! Our clear recommendation: Have the courage, seize the opportunity and show your colours at Europe's largest trade fair for cybersecurity and at the ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa! We look forward to welcoming you to the cybersecurity community."


Stimulating, supporting, paving the way

The idea behind the Award:

ATHENE/Fraunhofer SIT as well as NürnbergMesse and IT-Sicherheitscluster e. V. observed that exciting cybersecurity startups have been emerging in the DACH region for many years. However, until a few years ago, they operated a bit under the radar.
With the award, the initiators are therefore not least concerned with creating visibility for the innovative strength in Germany and actively promoting the startups.

Sandra Wiesbeck, executive chairwoman of IT-Sicherheitscluster e. V.: "The current situation of IT security worldwide has once again made us aware of how important the topic is and how vulnerable our digital structures are. That is why we are particularly keen to support the innovative strength and enthusiasm of startups as part of the ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa."


The Jury

Jury, Andreas Bechtold

"The startup scene in the cybersecurity industry is certainly one of the most active worldwide. Supporting startups from the DACH region with their go-to-market strategy is an important component of future success." 

Andreas Bechtold, CRO Infinigate Group

ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa | Jury Hertlein
"Especially nowadays, we see that cybersecurity is a key to a stable society. Therefore, as the winner of the UP21@it-sa Award, I am particularly pleased to be able to complement the top-class jury of the ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa and am excited to see the best startups of the DACH region and their solutions and what added value they create in the very agile environment of cybersecurity." 

Markus Hertlein
, Managing Director XignSys GmbH

Simon Hülsbömer

"I am absolutely sure, IT security startups from the German-speaking region will inspire us with innovations, ideas and immense verve at the ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa - for the fifth time already! As a representative of the UP media partner, I also always enjoy reporting on the event and the nominated startups. I have been part of the jury from the very beginning and am impressed every year by the exciting projects we get to be a part of. I hope to see you in Nuremberg!"

Simon Hülsbömer, Senior Project Manager – Editorial Office, COMPUTERWOCHE

ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa | IT-SEC Dr. Matthias Kampmann

This year, Dr. Matthias Kampmann, Head of Research and Development at IT-Sicherheitscluster e. V., is enriching the jury for the first time:

"Offering an award that prominently highlights the best in the DACH region demands and promotes a competitive as well as innovative environment, also with a view to digital sovereignty in Europe. We are helping to put the horsepower of fresh ideas on the road and I thank you for the trust and honour to be a member of the jury in 2022."

Oliver Küch

"Applied research plays a special role in the founding of startups in Germany - many of the successful startups are direct spin-offs from research institutions or arise from cooperations with them. Startups are an important building block in the successful transfer of research. Everyone benefits from this in the long term: society, the state and the economy. That's why we at ATHENE/Fraunhofer SIT support this award." 

Oliver Küch, Director Marketing and PR, Fraunhofer SIT

ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa | Jury Simran Mann
"The strengthening and strategic use of our excellent IT security location must be a core concern in the coming years. Cybersecurity must be understood as a key technology and the innovative spirit of science, business and startups must be brought together.
The ATHENE Startup Award UP22@it-sa contributes exactly to this and I am looking forward to being a judge this year!" 

Simran Mann
, Security Policy & Information Security Officer, Bitkom e.V.

Supporters and media partners

UP22 Award | Supporter

Questions? Suggestions?

Contact for questions about the award:

Ute Richter,
ATHENE Digital Hub Cybersecurity 

Lena Kress,
ATHENE Digital Hub Cybersecurity

Contact for questions about participation at it-sa 365:

it-sa 365 Team,


Contact for questions about sponsorship:

Dr. Matthias Kampmann,
IT-Sicherheitscluster e. V.