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How Startup Challenges Kickstart Growth

Posted at: 02.21.2023in category:Startup Focus
VivaTech’s Startup Challenges and Awards are live for 2023. Read up on some past winners’ success stories. And don’t forget to apply!

Photo credit: VivaTech

VivaTech’s Startup Challenges and Awards are a core part of our DNA. An open-innovation mechanism connects startups with industry leaders, corporates, ecosystems, and institutional partners. Every edition we receive over 10,000 applications from 125 countries.

The month of February marks the opening of many of these challenges and awards, including VivaTech’s four main Awards: the Female Founder Challenge, Next Unicorn Awards, AfricaTech Awards, and Next Startupper Challenge.

Winners of past awards have gone on to raise funding, receive advice from experienced entrepreneurs, create new partnerships, and more through the relationships made thanks to these challenges. Check out how some of last year’s winners have grown.


Vanessa Counaert, Founder of Resortecs. Photo credit: VivaTech

Female Founder Challenge

With the aim of leveling the playing field of entrepreneurship, the Female Founder Challenge helps to accelerate the financing of women-led startups all around the world and to urge VC funds to commit to more gender equality at all levels. 

“Winning the Female Founder Challenge gave us a boost of recognition and really helped us to gain credibility with investors. We met with several investors right after the challenge and some of the partners even mentored us. They gave us great advice on our startup and how to evaluate the company.”  Vanessa Counaert, Founder of Resortecs, 2022 FFC winner.

>> Apply now for the 2023 Female Founder Challenge 


Participants of the 2022 AfricaTech Awards. Photo credit: VivaTech

AfricaTech Awards

Despite growing investor interest, African startups frequently struggle to raise the capital required to scale their operations. Through the AfricaTech Awards, VivaTech and the IFC aim to create new opportunities for emerging startups in Africa and recognize startups making a positive impact in three crucial areas: Climate Tech, Health Tech, and Fintech. 

"Right after VivaTech, Click2Sure closed a new fundraising round. The award was a massive help for investors and partners but more importantly bigger clients we are chasing after now. Surely being the Fintech winner has helped us and will continue to bring credibility and visibility to our business." Marguerite Vendroux, Managing Director at Click2sure, winner of the 2022 Fintech category.

“To be recognized at the AfricaTech Awards felt like a world-class recognition of our efforts over the past 5 years. It was a golden opportunity to shed light on a problem that exists in Africa and the MENA region. Being recognized by the IFC and the support that followed the awards has resulted in several opportunities in business collaborations as well as funding opportunities.” – Dr. Rasha Rady, Co-founder and COO of Chefaa, winner of the 2022 Health Tech category.

“Our experience at VivaTech was quite humbling. Since winning the award, we successfully set up 6 new centers across the country to act as our pre-processing centers for e-waste collected and in turn created jobs for youths in those areas. We also made new partnerships for some of the problematic fractions we handle such as PCBs, toners and cartridges and gases from cooling equipment.” – Bonnie M. Mbithi, CEO of WEEE Centre, winner of the 2022 Climate Tech category. 

>> Apply now for the 2023 AfricaTech Awards


Raphaël Vullierme, co-founder and CEO of Luko. Photo credit: VivaTech

Next Unicorn Awards

The Next Unicorn Awards promotes the European startup ecosystem and highlights the strength of the tech scaleups in France and beyond. Awarding European scale-ups that have the potential to become the next unicorns, judges select scale-ups in six sectors. Marketplace, Saas, Digital Media, AI, Deeptech & Big Data, and Judges"e; favorite. 

“We were very honored to receive the Next Unicorn Awards Grand Prize from VivaTech, a key player in European Tech. With 100 selected startups competing across Europe, winning this Grand Prize was ​​proof that our work and our philosophy are recognized by our peers.” – Benoît Bourdel, CTO and co-founder of Luko, grand prize winner in 2022. 

Stay tuned for this year’s announcement of the Top 100 Next Unicorns!

Next Startupper Challenge

Founding a startup has no age requirement. Students who have an entrepreneurial project under development and a knack for entrepreneurship can apply for the Next Startupper Challenge. This inter-school and university award is an opportunity for the new generation of entrepreneurs to boost their projects.

Seven finalists will present their innovative solutions in front of tech and entrepreneurship experts on the VivaTech stage in June. We are fortunate to have Eric Larchevêque as a sponsor of the award who will mentor this year’s winner – who will also walk away with €5,000 to help grow their project.

>> Apply now for the Next Startupper Challenge (French-speaking only)


Join the 1,400 startups that have already applied

VivaTech’s Startup Challenges are a valuable opportunity for startups to gain visibility, build connections, and secure partnerships or investments. Kickstart your startup’s growth and apply now while registration is still open. 

This way for all the Challenges.



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