6 - Specific funding for start-ups in future-oriented industries

In future, North Rhine-Westphalia should be one of the leading B2B locations for start-ups throughout Germany. We are investing specifically in infrastructure to support this growth potential in recognised industries and technologies. Start-ups should benefit as much as possible from the strengths of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Where we are now

North Rhine-Westphalia offers future-oriented industries a unique environment that enables them to grow: 18 million potential customers, 70 higher education establishments with 38,100 MINT graduates, 10 DAX companies, numerous medium-sized world market-leading enterprises and 750,000 small and medium-sized enterprises. Industry in particular offers particularly good links here. With 1.2 million employees and a turnover of 350 billion euros, our state has as much industry in a single metropolitan area as anywhere else in Europe.

Following the rather reticent development of the start-up scene in North Rhine-Westphalia until a few years ago, it has gained momentum since the DWNRW Initiative in 2016 and the progress made in the meantime, Unlike in other start-up regions in Europe, the focus here is on the B2B sector, and in the course of the current dynamic advances in digitisation of the economy, has considerable potential for the future. Even now, start-ups based here see the majority of their turnover in the B2B sector (73.4 per cent, compared with only 67.7 per cent nationwide), with this primarily being with business customers in the region.

Our excellent academic institutions and research and development departments in businesses have been researching the digital future for many years. Almost one in three start-ups is based in the information and communication technology sector (see graphic). With their innovative products, they are transforming the entire industrial spectrum.

Sectors of participating start-ups from North Rhine-Westphalia
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Where we want to be

In future, North Rhine-Westphalia should be one of the leading B2B locations for start-ups throughout Germany. We are investing specifically in infrastructure to support this growth potential in recognised industries and technologies. Start-ups should benefit as much as possible from the strengths of North Rhine-Westphalia.

What we are doing

  • On account of their high capital requirement and often lengthy time to market, start-ups in the field of nano- and micro technologies, new materials and photonics (NMWP) have particular need of support. The Cluster NMWP NRW funded by us thus focuses on these kinds of hardware-based, scalable high-tech start-ups in the key technologies sector and provides them with tailor-made support.

  • Thanks to the NMWP Business Accelerator, we shall soon see the arrival of the first nationwide accelerator scheme for high-tech start-ups in the field of nano- and micro technologies, new materials and photonics.

  • We have set up a central infrastructure for start-ups and SMEs in the Rhine region. The digital Hardware Hub Aachen complements the existing software-oriented Digital Hub and enables the implementation of future-oriented topics such as artificial intelligence, quantum technology, smart cities, autonomous mobility, decentralised energy supply and personalised healthcare.

  • At the Merzbrück research airfield, we have established a technology centre and a test centre for alternative flight propulsion at Aachen (ZANTAC), providing the necessary infrastructure for start-ups in this sector.

  • We are reviewing the development of an infrastructure for start-ups and spin-off companies from the chemical industry at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, to provide nationwide support for the cost- and research-intensive start-up process. We are also supporting the planned initiative of the chemical industry in North Rhine-Westphalia to set up a ‘first point of contact’ for chemical start-ups and provide mentors free of charge. Start-ups will thus be actively supported as they make their way towards commercialisation and market development.

  • With the Quick Innovation in Catalysis (QuinCat) project at RWTH Aachen University, we are supporting start-ups in the Green Chemistry and Engineering sector.

  • The Life Science Incubator in Bonn is enabling people wanting to set up their own business in the life sciences to conduct research, formulate intellectual property strategies, receive coaching and prepare to start up their own business. There is a fund that provides initial financial assistance.

  • The BIO NRW – The home of Biotech network supports start-ups from an academic environment through to starting their own business and initial financing.

  • The EnergieAgentur NRW is an energy agency that supports start-ups with implementing innovative business models. The new Innovationsplattform NRW makes it easier for start-ups to establish networks in business and academia.

  • The KI Accelerator Programme provided by the DWNRW Hubs funds a tailor-made intensive support scheme for start-ups focusing on artificial intelligence. As part of a masterclass, the selected start-ups will receive expertise and feedback from mentors, as well as establish a network.