As you probably know, the electronica Fast Forward Award, the Start-up Platform powered by Elektor and staged together with the electronica 2016 trade show organisation,  is currently running and will reach its grand finale soon. The winner of this prestigious contest, to be announced next week at electronica 2016, will receive free editorial coverage, adverts, video and reports in online and printed Elektor International Media publications, in other words a magnificent PR and marketing budget valued at 75,000 euros. The winner will also get an exhibition stand at electronica 2018 (the show is every two years, remember?) free of charge. (I even heard, but this has to be confirmed so don’t take my word for it, that a bag, probably plastic, containing a somewhat stale copy of Elektor Magazine together with an Elektor sticker and a pen with Elektor printed on it might also be thrown in. But, as I said, this is highly unofficial information, so please don’t complain if it isn’t part of the package.)

Since the beginning of the competition this summer numerous start-up companies and homelabs from all over the world have registered many kinds of products & services, prototypes and ideas. Because I am involved in this contest as a kind of technical support act, I had the opportunity to review each entry in depth. To my surprise, I must admit, I found the overall quality very impressive. Not only did I see great quality, the entries also displayed amazing diversity. From community websites to new electronic components, from intelligent handbags and smart selfie sticks to clean power applications and clever programming languages – many fields were covered indeed. For sure – what else can you expect today? – the Internet of Things (IoT) and fast prototyping turned out to be the more popular subjects.

After a first evaluation round selected contestants were allowed to provide a serious presentation for their entry. From these the 35 most promising entries were chosen and invited over to electronica 2016 where they are required to present their project in front of an audience during the first three days of the show. The 35 entries – from 16 countries, if that ain’t international what is? – that made it into the final round are being scrutinized right now, offline so to speak, by a heterogeneous and professional jury made up of people from FFA sponsors STMicroelectronics, Würth, Conrad and Trinamic and also from Elektor (including me by the way, you can still send your “gifts” to my PayPal account, make sure to put “FFA” in the subject line). The contestants' live performances will be judged during the show by this very same, impartial jury.

After the first three days a ranking will be established for every category (Start-up, Prototype and Idea) of which the first three will be rewarded. On Friday morning November 11, the winners of the three categories will pitch one more time against each other to determine who will be the grand winner of the electronica Fast Forward Award 2016.

All contestants and their projects will be present at the electronica Fast Forward booth where they can be contacted and admired respectively by anyone visiting the show. The contestants' presentations are open to the public, so don’t be shy and join the show. We are situated right at Entrance East and we look forward to meet you there.