NRW – The place to be for Industry

NRW – The place to be for Industry

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The basis for the success of industry was already laid in Germany in the course of the Industrial Revolution in the coal-rich region of North Rhine-Westphalia. The economic success of that time has shaped NRW to this day.

NRW as a region has set itself the goal of being a pioneer in the fields of technological innovation for industrial solutions in the future.

NRW is also one of the few locations in the world that still has a complete industrial value chain. Characteristic is the unique mix of specialized small and medium-sized enterprises to large medium-sized enterprises and large companies. These companies are united by a high degree of internationalization, ranging from the basic material industries to specialized suppliers and large system providers in leading markets with strong growth.

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
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Detailed facts about NRW as an industrial location

NRW has already attracted 20 percent of all startups operating in Germany and has delivered even more radical innovations to the local industry, enabling local companies to take full advantage of the practical knowledge and modernization of the startup scene.

An example of such a radical innovation is the field of nanotechnology. Already 22% of German nanotech companies have established themselves in NRW, as well as 28% of all microsystems and technology companies.

In addition, 25,000 ICT companies have already established themselves in NRW. They generated almost a third of all IKT revenues generated in Germany, amounting to more than 103 billion euros.

NRW - From pioneer to expert in the field of Industry 4.0

As the industrial heart of the continent and Germany, NRW is home to a truly broad industrial customer base, encompassing everything from chemicals and mechanical engineering to electronics and electrical engineering. So there is a niche for everyone to drive and expand their own business. In addition to the potential German industrial customer base in NRW, the state also offers quick access to over 160 million people within a 500 km radius, who have a purchasing power of around 3.5 billion euros.

NRW offers immense opportunities for all companies and start-ups that want to contribute to innovative industrial solutions and make the fourth industrial revolution not only a reality, but also a success story. 

In order to network processes along the value chain, the future belongs to technologies such as IT platforms, digital twins and machine learning.

In order to further expand and improve processes, start-ups benefit from the leading research and educational institutions in NRW, for example. They offer young and innovative companies an ideal breeding ground to test and further develop their ideas. They benefit from the exchange between scientific findings and practical needs and applications. These research institutions include the Fraunhofer Institutes such as Fraunhofer FIT or the Centrum Industrial IT (CIIT e. V.).

NRW is also a particularly attractive location due to current developments in the field of AI. 

One player in the region that is committed to the advancement of artificial intelligence is KI.NRW. In cooperation with local players from politics, civil society, business and science, KI.NRW is actively using AI. One such program is the application of AI in hospitals or in mobility, which is not only changing industries but also creating smart cities.

These advances are also one reason why NRW is already a leader in language mode research and machine quantum learning.

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NRW - Progress through education

There are currently over 750,000 students in NRW studying at one of the 68 universities in the region, such as TU Dortmund University, Ruhr University Bochum or RWTH Aachen University. Around 27% of these students study at universities of applied sciences, which guarantees a well-trained workforce.

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. 

We present just a few of them here.

Dig. Hubs NRW (Aachen, Bonn, Düsseldorf Rheinland, Münsterland, ruhrhub)

With its Startup Fellowship and Accelerator Program, the Digital Hubs support startups and intrapreneurs with growth potential in networking with universities, established companies and investors. The scaling program Scaleup.NRWsupports high-growth start-ups from North Rhine-Westphalia.

Startercenter NRW

Initiated by the IHK, the Chambers of Crafts and the municipal economic development agencies, 75 starter centers support founders with information, advice and training. The formalities can also be handled flawlessly with the help of the experts.

InsurLab Germany

InsureTech is a major topic in Cologne. Founders from the fields of e-payment, blockchain, IoT, e-health, virtual reality and big data meet here. The transfer of knowledge from universities into practice is promoted.

Startup Region OWL

The network brings together founders and entrepreneurs from East Westphalia-Lippe. Initiated by the Founders Foundation Bielefeld and supported by the state government, the region wants to make its attractive start-up ecosystem known beyond the regional borders.

A general overview of the startup ecosystem can be found here:

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 overall package for start-ups in industry

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.

NRW has the largest share of foreign direct investment among all federal states. Almost every third euro invested from abroad flows to NRW. Actors such as NRW. Global Business attracts foreign direct investments to the region.

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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.

Especially the network of local chambers of industry and commerce (IHK) in Germany is an important partner of the German economy and offer 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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