Start-up Location Rhineland

An increasing number of young entrepreneurs take the risk of starting their own business. About 800,000 people in Germany get self-employed each year - 100,000 of them live in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. The highest number of start-ups in the media and ICT sector is registered in the region Cologne/Bonn; Aachen is famous for its economic growth in the engineering industries.

Internationally successful web start-ups such as the music streaming portal Simfy or the translation tool Linguee are located in Cologne. As a media hotspot, the city hosts famous events such as the Advance International Web & Startup Conference or the Digital Marketing Exposition and Conference (dmexco). Outlines of famous Cologne start-ups as well as up-to-date information on events, start-up networks, studying and training opportunities, awards, investors, business angels or funding options are all available on the Kölner Startup-Lotse website.

Training opportunities

Starting one’s own business is especially popular with university graduates with a science degree. These start-ups will find the Rhineland particularly well prepared for their needs: 14 universities of applied sciences, training academies and start-up initiatives are organized in the EXIST support network of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. Both the University of Aachen and Cologne University have been awarded the title of “Exzellenz Universität” for excellent research by a joint initiative of the federal and state governments.

Support and funding

Various agencies and institutions in the Rhineland offer support services for start-ups. 26 information points, so-called starter-centres which are sponsored by the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHKs), provide comprehensive counseling services on an individual basis as well as coaching courses. By means of the Förderlotse NRW search engine, operated by the Starter-centre NRW initiative in cooperation with the NRW.Bank, start-ups may search a multitude of regional as well as national funding programmes for the most suitable options with regard to their personal business concept. Those who need help developing their business plan find it at the Gündungswerkstatt NRW.

With more than 350,000 people working in the media, North-Rhine Westphalia is Germany’s leading media location. More than a third of the country’s 65,000 media companies are headquartered in the Rhineland. The Mediencluster NRW offers support to young entrepreneurs from the fields of creative economy, film and TV, publishing, web business and games development. The Förderkompass.Medien.NRW, for instance, compiles funding options specifically directed towards people aspiring towards the media industry.

Start-up centres and incubators

A total of 14 start-up centres in the Rhineland support technologically interested strat-ups by providing affordable rental space and technical equipment and by introducing new companies into existing industry clusters. The GIZ start-up centre in Cologne, for example, accompanies young talents right from the start by means of individually tailored counseling services. The start-up campus Start Media Hürth is directed towards young entrepreneurs from the media sector. In addition, incubators such as the renowned betafabrik in Cologne offer all-round support for promising start-ups.