Elaborations by Digitale Wirtschaft NRW (DWNRW) and NRW.INVEST

3-Sentence Pitch on the local Startup Ecosystem

North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populous state, is located in the west of Germany where it shares borders with Belgium and the Netherlands. This geographic location and the history of workforce immigration contribute to the multicultural and vibrant character of NRW. NRW offers excellent conditions for startups through its (1) six newly founded digital hubs, (2) numerous universities offering skilled workforce (70), (3) attractive financial instruments, (4) strong economy based on industrial and small and medium-sized enterprises and (5) a lively startup community.

Digital Hubs

The digital initiative called “Digitale Wirtschaft NRW“ created six digital hubs, which are located in different cities throughout NRW (Aachen, Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, and Münster). Their mission is to connect industry and small and medium-sized companies with startups, in order to develop joint digital business models. The hubs offer workspace, consultation on business topics and financial support, as well as access to a big network. Furthermore, workshops and mentoring programs are organized. This all contributes to the lively startup ecosystems in NRW.

For more information, please visit the websites and don’t hesitate to contact the respective hub manager:

Sectoral Focus of the Startup Ecosystem

The big advantage of NRW is the wide variety of startups that are founded here. The economy and the startup ecosystem are very diverse. Therefore, the digital hubs do not have a sectoral focus but work inter-sectorally.

Local Financing Landscape/Presence of VCs

The following list names some of the operating VCs in NRW. However, because of a high density of industrial and small and medium-sized enterprises, many investments in startups are undertaken by companies directly.

  • Capnamic Ventures
  • DuMont Venture
  • EnjoyVenture
  • High-Tech Gründerfonds Management
  • IKB Invest
  • iSteps
  • High_Tech Gründerfonds
  • Klick VentureMedia Ventures
  • BANK
  • RTL Interactive
  • SeedCapital Dortmund
  • S-Siegerlandfonds 1
  • S-UBG
  • S-VC
  • Statkraft Ventures
  • Talanx Assset Management
  • Thyssen-Krupp-Ventures
  • Tengelmann E-Commerce (Tengelmann Ventures)
  • T-Venture
  • United Internet
  • VHB Ventures
  • Venture One

In addition to the private VCs, the government of NRW and the business development bank created two financial instruments for startups (DWNRW SeedCap and Fonds2Fonds). For more information please visit www.nrwbank.de.

Presence and Industrial Focus of Established Industries

  • Automotive: Ford, Benteler (Stiftungsprofessur), Hella
  • Chemicals: Bayer (Grants4Program), Evonik Industries, Henkel
  • Electricity: RWE (Innogy Innovation Hub), EON (Agile Accelerator)
  • Private Equity: Haniel (Schacht.One)
  • Insurance: AXA
  • Logistic: Cologne Bonn Cargo, Arvato Systems Technologies Bertelsmann (Founders Foundation)
  • Media: RTL (RTL Interactive), WDR, Bertelsmann
  • ICT: Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile)
  • Steel: Thyssen-Krupp (Thyssen-Krupp-Ventures)

Presence of Incubators/Accelerators

  • Digihubs from DWNRW
  • StartLab
  • Startplatz
  • 1stMOVER
  • betafabric
  • crossventures GmbH
  • VHB ventures GmbH

Presence of Research Institutes and Universities

745,000 young talents study at 70 universities and universities of applied sciences in our state. That offers companies an excellent pool of talents. That is more than you can find in the greater area of Paris and even four times more than in Berlin. Alone 80,000 of these talents are specializing in computer sciences or electrical engineering.

Those universities combined with 10 clusters of excellence and more than 50 R&D institutes offer the densest research landscape in Europe.

Noticeable Events

  • CrowdDay
  • Dmexco
  • DWNRW Summit
  • E-Commerce Tag
  • Gründerforum NRW
  • Pirate Summit Cologne
  • Ruhr Summit
  • Startup Week Düsseldorf
  • Tengelmann eday