The award for
Germany's most
innovative SMEs

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This is the TOP 100

Together with mentor Ranga Yogeshwar, the TOP 100 honours the most innovative of Germany’s small and medium-sized enterprises.

TOP 100 is the only independent award for innovation management in Germany. It is not easy to get into the TOP 100, but if you are successful, the reputation is all the higher.


TOP 100 has been established for 30 years. It is:

the only competition for innovation management

the most important award for innovative SMEs

a Club of Excellence made up of Germany's innovation elite

What TOP 100 stands for

Head start

A unique, reputation-enhancing accolade

Independent, respected and well-known: More than any other award, the TOP 100 seal of approval has embodied the innovative strength of small and medium-sized enterprises for more than 25 years. The scientific analysis attests to the companies' future viability, enabling these top innovators to show their customers and suppliers as well as banks, the media and potential job applicants that they are a reliable partner.

The TOP 100 winners use this seal of approval to position themselves as leading innovators in their sector, as important companies in their region and as attractive employers in the job market. So the small amount of effort involved in taking part pays off in many respects.

Gaining an edge with a statement of innovation

Many of the TOP 100 companies are leaders in their sectors or are on the way to becoming so. An individual statement of innovation enables them to increase their competitive advantage: Nikolaus Franke, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, evaluates each company's strengths and weaknesses relative to those of other participants. The top innovators also receive recommendations on how to improve their business.

The TOP 100 companies can use this analysis to further optimise their innovation processes, push ahead with innovations marketing and establish a markedly better climate of innovation. By participating in subsequent years, the companies can measure their progress.

Networking in the Club of Excellence

Whether climbers, athletes or entrepreneurs, those who achieve the extraordinary on a daily basis enjoy meeting and talking with like-minded people. The TOP 100 offers a very special forum for this: the Club of Excellence.

The top innovators enjoy privileged access to this unique network, which organises a variety of events at which members can meet in an unusual setting. These experiences are available exclusively to the TOP 100 participants and are an opportunity for inspirational conversations on a personal level.

Ranga Yogeshwar: The mentor of the TOP 100

Ranga Yogeshwar has accompanied TOP 100 as a mentor for eleven years. He is one of Germany's leading science journalists and is particularly committed to the topics of innovation and knowledge transfer.

He has taken over from Lothar Späth to meet new fascinating and creative minds from German SMEs every year. He relies on the signal effect of the seal: "Germany needs a lot more innovative spirit, a lot more companies that courageously shape our future."

Independent. Reliable. Scientific.

Professor Nikolaus Franke has been the scientific head of TOP 100 since 2002. He has been the director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business since 2001. With 25 research awards and more than 200 publications, he is one of the leading international innovation researchers.
He was also a visiting researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). During this time, he has continuously developed the TOP 100 system on the basis of his many thousands of analyses.

How TOP 100 works



Small and medium-sized German companies are eligible to take part. They are divided into three size categories at the outset:

  1. up to 50 employees
  2. 51 to 200 employees
  3. more than 200 employees



Participants will receive a link to their online questionnaire for the innovation analysis immediately after registering. They will then have two weeks to answer the questions.



On the basis of the innovation analysis and supplementary phone calls, where applicable, the project coordinators will assess the innovative prowess of the companies in the following five categories:

  • Innovation-friendly Senior Management
  • Climate of Innovation
  • Innovative Processes/Organisation
  • Outward looking/Open Innovation
  • Successful Innovations

To be successful in the TOP 100 competition, you will need well thought-out innovation management that is a good fit for your company and demonstrates that you are equipped for the future.

Panel of judges


The best three companies in each size category are also presented to the TOP 100 judges, who then select the ‚Innovator of the Year‘ in each category.

Awards ceremony


All of the TOP 100 companies and the three ‚Innovators of the Year‘ receive a prize from Ranga Yogeshwar at the annual awards ceremony and gain access to the TOP 100 package of benefits.