Germany's up-and-coming AI talent honored at youth competition finals

Whether unmasking fake photos, protecting hedgehogs from robot mowers or saving food: The winning teams of the German National Artificial Intelligence Competition 2023 want to solve social and ecological problems with AI.

On November 10, ten student teams competed in the finals of the 5th German National Competition for Artificial Intelligence (BWKI) in Tübingen.

This year's main prize of 1,500 euros went to Jonathan Reinhard and the "Brainhome" team from Göttingen. The 19-year-old developed an AI that can, for example, open doors or regulate heating without using your hands or voice commands. Instead, an algorithm translates thoughts into signals. Jonathan Reinhard has designed an EEG cap that is much cheaper than conventional models. In the future, it could make everyday life easier for severely disabled or paralyzed people. His project surprised the jury not only with its advanced AI, but also with its unusually sophisticated electrical engineering. The student from Lower Saxony will also receive an internship at the high-tech company Fanuc in the field of industrial automation.

The 500 Euro prize in the special category "Environment and Sustainability" was awarded to two winning teams:

Leonie Weiss, Philip Synowiec, Paula Juhasz-Böss and Amelie Hettl from Regensburg want to use their intelligent algorithm "Demand Detective" to predict food sales in supermarkets and make appropriate purchasing recommendations. The students, who are between 15 and 17 years old, want to save food and conserve resources.

Marcel Decker, Max Schmidt and Jacob Bürkle from Langen received the award for their project "Kenergy". The AI developed by the 18- and 19-year-old students from Hesse calculates the solar energy yield of their own roofs quickly and inexpensively.

Sebastian Albert emerged as the winner in the special "Hardware" category. The 20-year-old from March near Freiburg, entered his "Hedgehog Rescuer", an algorithm that uses an attachment on a lawnmower robot to detect and avoid hedgehogs. This saves them from a painful death. The project was awarded a prize of 750 euros.

The young talent prize went to the team "Synthetic Eye", consisting of Jakob Heldt and Noah Brömme from the German International School in New York. With their AI, the 16-year-olds help distinguish between real and manipulated images - and thus expose fake news. The two students, who live in the United States, received a cash prize of 500 euros and an online course in machine learning. The team from New York was the first German school abroad to take part in the competition.

For those who could not attend, the event was streamed live on YouTube - and viewers could vote for their favorite team in the Audience Award category. The Audience Award, worth 500 Euros, went to the team "Kernergy" from Langen. This meant that Jacob Bürkle, Marcel Decker and Max Schmidt were able to celebrate winning two prizes that evening.

The Copernicus-Gymnasium Norderstedt in Schleswig-Holstein secured the title of "AI School of the Year" for the particularly active participation of its 11th grade class in the free AI course of the BWKI ( As a reward, the students received programming kits sponsored by FESTO.

For the fifth year in a row, high school students were invited to develop their own AI project, either alone or in a team of up to four people, and make a positive contribution to society and the environment. After registering their project ideas in the spring of 2023, the pupils had six months to implement them. Ten teams qualified for the finals in Tübingen on November 10, which this year took place as part of the Science & Innovation Days science festival at the University of Tübingen. The teams had the chance to convince a top-class jury of their projects.

The jury for this year's competition consisted of Dr. Philip Häusser (physicist and moderator), Prof. Dr. Matthias Bethge (director of the Tübingen AI Center), Dr. Wieland Brendel (ELLIS Institute Tübingen, Tübingen AI Center, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen) and Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schölkopf (director of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen), Meike Ramón (cognitive neuroscientist and expert in the field of visual perception and face recognition, University of Lausanne), Ute Wilhelmsen (marine biologist and science journalist), Kenza Ait Si Abbou (engineer, manager and author on AI and robotics), Markus Mauder (lead data scientist at ZEISS Group), Sophie Plötz (expert on AI in schools at KI-Campus), Elie Khouriy (group leader at BOSCH Research), Pina Merkert (editor at c't magazine and maker), Jan Seyler (division manager and developer at FESTO), Christoph Schumann (computer science teacher and co-founder of the AI organization LAION), as well as Thomas Sedlmeyr and Theo Döllmann as BWKI alumni.

The German National Contest on Artificial Intelligence will be held again next year. The main sponsor is the Carl Zeiss Foundation. The competition is also supported by Bosch, Festo, Fanuc, the Droemer and Knaur publishing houses, and c't magazine, and is organized in cooperation with the Stuttgart Media University (Hochschule der Medien), IT4Kids, and the German Marine Research Alliance.

About the German National Artificial Intelligence Competition

The BWKI aims to motivate students to implement their own ideas for a better world of tomorrow with the help of artificial intelligence. The national competition was launched in 2018 at the AI research location Tübingen by Prof. Dr. Matthias Bethge (Director of the Tübingen AI Center), Dr. Wieland Brendel (ELLIS Institute Tübingen, Tübingen AI Center, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen) and Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schölkopf (Director of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen) and has since enabled young people to actively demonstrate their skills in the AI research environment.

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About the Tübingen AI Center

The German National Artificial Intelligence Competition is an outreach project of the AI Center Tübingen. The Tübingen AI Center, a joint partnership between the University of Tübingen and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, funded by the Ministry of Research of Baden-Württemberg and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany. It is dedicated to advancing the frontiers of machine intelligence – with a twofold mission: to develop robust learning systems that can match the effectiveness of biological systems and to ensure the societal benefits of AI. The center combines basic research with transfer and education. Together with other researchers in Europe, the aim is to contribute to socially valuable technologies as "AI made in Europe".

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About the Carl Zeiss Foundation

The Carl Zeiss Foundation has set itself the goal of creating scope for scientific breakthroughs. As a partner of excellent science, it supports basic research as well as application-oriented research and teaching in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Founded in 1889 by the physicist and mathematician Ernst Abbe, the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung is one of the oldest and largest private science foundations in Germany. It is the sole owner of Carl Zeiss AG and Schott AG. Its projects are financed from the dividends paid by these companies.

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