sera has supported the promotion Nordhessen business plan competition for many years. With our environmental award, we want to help young start-ups and companies in the founding phase to implement their innovative ideas.

With its 21st round, promotion Nordhessen is one of the longest-running business plan competitions all over Germany and can look back on an extremely successful history. The competition is advertised and organised annually by Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH, supported by the State of Hesse with ERDF funding (European Regional Development Fund) and co-financed by the regional sponsors. As part of promotion Nordhessen, founders receive comprehensive and free advice on all strategic and organisational issues related to setting up a business. The young entrepreneurs can draw on a comprehensive network of coaches and advisors. Regular workshops and a business plan tool round off the offer for young company founders. The preparation of a business plan for setting up a company plays a central role, as each round of the competition ends with the awarding of prizes to the best business plans.

Within the framework of the competition, the Environmental Award forms its own category and is aimed at start-up founders who deal with the topic of the environment and environmental technology in particular.

In 2021, the competition again took place under difficult conditions. Due to the Corona pandemic, many activities were carried out digitally and remotely. For example, for the award ceremony with the Hessian Minister of Economics, Tarek Al-Wazir, a hybrid concept was realised with video feeds of the winners.

The winner of this year’s environmental award is SHARDS from Kassel with the founders Dr. Moritz von Galen, Leya Bilgic and Lea Schücking.

Construction waste made into tiles – SHARDS are the pioneers here. Typical tiles are made of clay, stone or concrete. The import and extraction of these raw materials is always associated with irreversible environmental impacts. In 2018, for example, 14.4 million tonnes of clay were mined in Germany alone, while at the same time, four times the amount of construction waste was produced. The production of SHARDS tiles conserves valuable natural resources while helping to reduce the burden on landfills. SHARDS is the first upcycling solution for construction waste and thus solves an acute problem of landfilling in Germany.

On the one hand, SHARDS consist of reused building materials from the city in the spirit of „urban mining“. On the other hand, broken SHARDS can be 100% reintegrated into the SHARDS production. With SHARDS, consumers purchase a high-quality product that is produced locally in Germany and has already been awarded the Federal Ecodesign Prize by the Federal Environment Ministry in 2018. SHARDS means 100% recycled material. To live up to this claim, no binders or dyes
are used in the production of SHARDS. The fine balancing of the raw materials creates tiles with a great visual and tactile variety. Co-design and personalisation welcome. SHARDS customers can help shape the colour, format and surface feel of their personalised SHARDS. In addition, materials provided by the customer can be processed. Renovation finished and old bricks left over? SHARDS turns it into tiles for the new kitchen.

Environmental Award winners have convinced the jury: Their sustainable and innovative approach also brought them the overall victory in the start-up competition. They show the potential and the enormous range that circular economy and upcycling make possible and that they can even result in really beautiful products. In addition, the subject scored points with a well thought-out and well-developed business plan. We wish SHARDS the success that the young company deserves.
The next round of the competition is already in preparation. The design of the environmental award will also be revised for the future and is intended to focus even more strongly on the issues that also concern us at sera. Watch this space.


  • 550 companies were created through the initiative, of which over 320 are in North Hesse
  • Over 2,320 new jobs have been created as a result
  • Approximately 3,930 prospective start-up founders have been supported, 132 in the current competition round alone
  • 40 business plans have currently been submitted
  • 100 volunteer coaches are on hand to advise the start-up founders
  • More than 25 seminars, workshops and coaching evenings take place per competition round