NRW - The logistics hotspot in Germany

NRW - The logistics hotspot in Germany

NRW is not only the most populous and economically strongest federal state in Germany, but also offers an excellent transport infrastructure that connects all major European markets. Whether by road, rail, water or air, NRW offers you optimal transportation options for your goods and services.

As a center for innovation and digitalization in the logistics sector, here you will find qualified specialists, renowned research institutions and strong networks that will help you to optimize your processes, reduce your costs and increase your competitiveness.

NRW's geographical location, technological expertise and economic dynamics make it an ideal logistics location.

Nine top logistics companies have their headquarters in NRW (including Deutsche Post DHL, Rhenus, FedEx, Arvato, Schenker AG)

NRW - Business location figures

Main facts about NRW as a business location

  • 18 million inhabitants (21,5% of Germany)
  • 710,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (KMUs)
  • every fourth market leader comes from North Rhine-Westphalia
  • In 2022, 20.5% of the gross domestic product was generated in NRW with € 793.8 billion

Detailed facts about NRW as a business location for logistics

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The state also has around 720 kilometers of waterways and 120 inland ports that handle a good 115 million tons of goods every year. The Port of Duisburg is the world's largest inland port and Dortmund is home to Europe's largest canal port.

Nowhere else in Germany is the highway network as tightly knit as in NRW. With almost 150 million consumers within a radius of around 500 kilometers, logistics reaches around a third of the EU population within a daily truck distance.

Around 24,000 logistics companies based NRW generate an annual turnover of approx. 67 billion euros. Almost 350,000 people are employed in the core logistics sector. If other logistics sectors are included, the figure rises to 712,000.

In 2014, the World Bank named Germany the most efficient logistics location in the world for the first time. In 2016 and 2018, Germany was again ranked first in the “Logistics Performance Index”. In the accompanying global survey “Connection to Compete”, freight companies and express carriers chose Germany as number one among 160 countries. With this award, however, they paid special tribute to North Rhine-Westphalia, the leading location for logistics in Germany.

NRW is also a focal point for start-ups. Here you will find numerous start-up companies developing innovative solutions for the logistics industry. NRW has already been able to attract 20% of all start-ups active in Germany, delivering even more radical innovations to the local industry and enabling local companies to take full advantage of the practical insights and modernization associated with the start-up scene.

NRW- Improvement through education and research

In addition to space, NRW offers great scientific and research institutions that promote innovation and a highly qualified talent pool in the region. For example, RWTH Aachen University, TU Dortmund University, Neuss University of Applied Sciences, the University of Duisburg-Essen and TU Cologne train their students in various areas of logistics. A wide range of different degree programs and training occupations in the field of logistics in NRW ensures that the industry benefits from new theories.

NRW is home to a number of important research institutes and chairs dealing with the subject of logistics. Around 4,800 students are enrolled in the 45 logistics courses in NRW including technical logistics, digital logistics, trade and production logistics. Two universities made it to the podium in the university ranking in 2020: The University of Duisburg-Essen once again took the top position in the university ranking in the nationwide student competition Logistics Masters 2020.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML in Dortmund is the world’s largest and most respected research institute for logistics issues. It advises companies of all industries and sizes on issues related to material flow and logistics and manages the “Internet of Things”. The Digital Hub Logistics as part of the Digital Hub Initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection is also located at Fraunhofer IML.

NRW - Growth-promoting environment

Founders have many opportunities to exchange ideas with like-minded people and potential business and cooperation partners. Numerous advisory services and accelerator programs in NRW offer support. 

Here are just a few of the offers in NRW

E-port Dortmund

The e-port-dortmund, foundation and competence center for logistics and information technology at the Port of Dortmund, promotes the establishment of innovative start-ups and existing companies in the logistics sector. Flexible office space, office and network services, consulting services and a strong partner network are available to them. Here, start-ups can utilize synergies and actively shape the logistics industry

NRW.Global Business

NRW.Global Business is responsible for international location marketing for Germany's No. 1 investment location, North Rhine-Westphalia, and attracts foreign direct investment to the region worldwide. Germany's economically strongest federal state is already home to around 22,000 foreign companies. The experts at NRW.Global Business support investors with tax and legal issues and provide detailed information on the economic structure and industry clusters. They analyze investment projects, identify suitable locations and accompany an investment project from the first step through to successful establishment and beyond.


Startport is an innovation platform for logistics and supply chain topics. Together with their strong network of industry, start-ups, venture capital and research, they drive forward innovations in logistics and supply chain. At the heart of logistics in the region, the Port of Duisburg, startport and its young entrepreneurs are harnessing technology to create real value through innovation. Based on their already extensive network, they offer startups many advantages, such as matchmaking with potential customers, active support through coaching and projects, as well as flexible office space and access to many venture capital funds and business angels.

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There are many great funding opportunities for startups, such as the Centers of Excellence NRW, which facilitate the transfer of theoretical and scientific findings into operational reality. The centres are currently being funded with 116 million euros to help young entrepreneurs set up startups in the region. Another example is the start2grow initiative in North Rhine-Westphalia and Dortmund, which actively supports and promotes young startups, networks and rewards them.

To support the industry, the state government supports the Competence Network Logistik. NRW. In the Competence Network Logistics. NRW, around 180 companies and 20 scientific institutions as well as numerous intermediary actors are working on logistics solutions for future challenges. In particular, logistics 4. 0, digital networking in the supply chain, AI and autonomous logistics, multichannel logistics, climate protection and, currently, resilience in the event of pandemics play a role. It is supported by the associations LOG-IT Club e. V. and the Verband Verkehrswirtschaft und Logistik e. V. (VVWL).

NRW also offers large areas for the logistics and mobility industry, which are available on more than 205 hectares for new commercial areas. In addition, the government and ministries in NRW are important partners in these projects, which actively support new and existing companies. The state played a major role in the realisation of the new park projects on Datteln, Waltrop and Gelsenkirchen as well as in the creation of industrial parks and zones for small and medium-sized enterprises in the Rhine-Ruhr region.

The state is supported by NRW.BANK when it comes to business development. This advises start-ups on funding and grants suitable loans if required. Different funding programs are specialized for different industries. Real experts will find a tailor-made financing program for the respective start-up. 

Even during the coronavirus pandemic, the state of NRW has placed particular emphasis on preserving start-ups. In the first edition of the corona aid program, NRW.BANK granted a total of EUR 21.6 million to 112 start-ups, which meant an average amount of just under EUR 193,000. This coronavirus aid consisted of convertible loans with a term of six years and an interest rate of 6%, which are deferred until maturity or conversion. No collateral was required for the convertible loans.

NRW - The location for start-ups

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NRW is the right location for any company, but especially for international companies that want to expand or establish themselves in new markets.

The location has a network of great partners who share their access, resources and knowledge in their respective networks. When it comes to financing, NRW.BANK is one trusted source of funding in NRW. 

Beside this North Rhine-Westphalia is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for startup financing! According to the EY Startup Barometer Germany from July 2023 (EY Startup - EY Startup-Barometer Germany – July 2023), NRW ranks third in the number of financing rounds nationwide behind Berlin and Bavaria, with 13% of all financing rounds in Germany taking place in NRW. Even more impressive, NRW is one of the few federal states that has increased the number of financing rounds in the first six month of 2023 compared to the previous year. Additionally, in terms of financing volume, NRW ranks a strong fourth behind Berlin, Bavaria, and Hamburg. These figures are a testament to the growing ecosystem for startups in North Rhine-Westphalia and the state's commitment to investing in innovation.

The location also offers several organizations such as the Digi.Hubs NRW, Startercenter NRW, InsurLab Germany and the Startup Region_OWL. These organizations cover all areas of founding and further development. 

Especially the network of local chambers of industry and commerce (IHK) in Germany is an important partner of the German economy and offers a wide range of services and advice for local companies.

Even in times of crisis, the state has shown that innovation is maintained through support.

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