2 - Inspiring start-ups

Within the next five years, we want to climb the ranks to become one of the top three states in Germany with the highest number of start-ups, and we want to generate the most start-ups across the country on an annual basis.

Where we are now

In Germany, there is a distinct lack of motivation to set up a business. Studies, such as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, show that the road to self-employment in our country appears to be less appealing than in many others. Evidently, Germany needs to catch up when it comes to communicating the idea of entrepreneurship in the education system and giving sufficient recognition in society to people starting their own business. A high proportion of start-ups is the fruit of a climate that is conducive to their development. If we can develop a flourishing start-up scene, more people will be attracted to setting up their own business. According to NUI rankings, the start-up intensity in North Rhine-Westphalia is indeed above the national average – but only just (see graphic).

NUI indicator by federal state 2017
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Where we want to be

Within the next five years, we want to climb the ranks to become one of the top three states in Germany with the highest number of start-ups, and we want to generate the most start-ups across the country on an annual basis.

What we are doing

  • The NRW Founder Award, known as the Gründerpreis NRW, awarded by the Ministry of Economics, rewards the most creative and most successful business ideas in North Rhine-Westphalia. At 60,000 euros, it is one of the most lucrative start-up awards in Germany.

  • From 2020, the three best digital start-ups from North Rhine-Westphalia will receive prize money totalling 50,000 euros at the Pirate Summit in Cologne.

  • Particularly promising young entrepreneurs can apply for the NRW Newcomers award, known as the Durchstarter NRW award. The winners will be decided from a series of pitching contests across the state.

  • In the Start-Up Stories series, we present the profiles of business founders whose lifestyles and business ideas reflect the variety of the scene and encourage self-employment.

  • The Junior Programme enables students to have some practical, first-hand business experience. They set up their own business, sell their own products and earn real money.

  • In the ‘Business@School’ pilot project, the NRW.BANK is making its expertise on start-up financing available to groups of students.

  • The introduction of Business as a school subject and/or strengthening the position of business in the school curriculum in North Rhine-Westphalia by the end of the 2020/21 school year should give students a greater basic understanding of business and introduce them to the idea of setting up their own business later on.

  • Through the Exzellenz Start-up Center NRW initiative, we are seeking to contribute towards increasing people’s enthusiasm for starting up in business in higher education in North Rhine-Westphalia. 150 million euros have been set aside for this through to 2024.