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What does the startup industry look like in northern Germany

The fact is: The mine Prosper-Haniel in beautiful Bottrop was last – since the closure of the colliery Auguste Victoria 2015 – the last active coal mine in the Ruhr. The mine, whose older part is very close to my parents’ house, was closed on December 21, 2018 forever.

Already on 14 September, the last coal was won in regular operation. The mining section between Duisburg and Dortmund has since definitely ended. It will also be time to stop looking into the past. The area must finally get rid of the coal dust, shake off! And with him all the clichés that connects the rest of the country with the Ruhr.

Why? Although mining has shaped the region for a long time, people who have grown up in the Ruhr Area over the last 30 or 40 years have to do with coal and steel to a large extent since birth. My grandfather was still underground.

But I did not experience him as an active miner anymore. At least I can not remember it. Mining was only a glimpse into the past during my childhood in my family, which for the most part (except for my grandmother on my father’s side) landed in the Ruhr area after World War II.

A glimpse into the past, where the whole region feasts and sometimes still rewards. A look at the former – alleged – glorious times. With full employment, women in frock aprons, small (dirty) colliery houses, malicious men drinking a pilsken in the pub in the evening, boys playing football in the street, big companies where grandfather, father and son could earn their own bread at the same time, and clotheslines on which the white laundry immediately turned black.

This constant look back at the industrial times with all their advantages and disadvantages obstructed for years not only the view into the future, but also the view of the present of the erstwhile coal mine. The old days will not come again! In particular, large corporations, which give thousands of people jobs and shape entire generations and cities, are a real problem for the respective cities and the people who are looking for work when these giants are not doing well.

The look back made many people in the region, the winding towers mostly only from the logos of various regional initiatives know, and especially in the rest of the country blind to the actual, the new, the modern Ruhr area. And this modern Ruhr area is already here! Long time! The big fanatics of the past have only obscured the view of the new Ruhr area for years. It’s just not the time for Ruhrstalgia – in the style of Ostalgia.

The future in the Ruhrgebiet has long since begun! For years, a young, bustling startup scene has been growing and thriving in the Ruhr area. Although this is far from being comparable to Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, the scene between Duisburg and Dortmund does not have to hide. It just has to get louder, connect better, become more visible. The media in the region must also focus much more on the topic. Startups from the Ruhr area are reported more frequently in regional and local newspapers and magazines in Berlin, as well as in the large business magazines than in the region itself.

The cities in the district in turn simply have to forget their city limits. In many cases startups are not really tied to places, employees are often not. Bochum found their companies in Essen and give people from many cities work. The scene lives and loves this freedom. The big companies in the region, some of whom are already quite active in the scene, have to open their doors even more for startups. And: The investors in the country, who kick their feet at every mini-event in Berlin, have to go to the ICE to Dortmund, Bochum or Essen more often.

In the Ruhr area there are startups and grownups like Urlaubguru, GastroHero,, Pottsalat, Bauduu or to discover. Unlike in Berlin, where big B2C grownups such as zalando, Home24 or Delivery Hero are located, the Ruhr area can be particularly B2B! A topic that more and more lenders are looking for. Countless companies are taking care of future topics such as IndustrialTech, Cybersecurity or the Internet of Things (IoT) along Emscher and Ruhr.

Alone Bochum can already today with a stately scene around the extremely important topic Cybersecurity proliferate. In Duisburg, the startport has long since created a hub for the mega-important topic of logistics. And the successful donor Tengelmann Ventures (TEV) is at home in the area and is now heavily involved in their own homeland. And the Initiativkreis Ruhr is also driving forward the startup of the region with the Gründerallianz Ruhr. With the Data Hub, for example, the start-up alliance brings startups who deal with data and large companies together. Seen this is all in the rest of the country hardly or far too little. Other regions are just louder, marketing better.

If you would like to get to know the startup Ruhr area in its entirety, you should take a look at the Ruhr: Hub in Essen, which I support as a networker. Since the end of 2016, the Ruhr: Hub team promotes the founding culture in the pot, networks the scene, makes it visible and organizes grandiose events such as the Startup Nights (SUN).

A great example of how companies and startups in the region work together is the Beyond Conventions event. A format in which even quiet companies like Aldi Süd join in. Otherwise you should come to the phenomenal Ruhr summit in October. With around 4,500 visitors, RuhrSummit is one of the biggest startup events in the country. A good overview of the entire region is provided by the Startup Guide Ruhrgebiet.

What is still missing in the Ruhr area is a slogan. A slogan that perfectly describes the modern Ruhr area. A slogan like “poor but sexy” that has influenced Berlin for years. But much more important is that the whole area shakes off the past, raises one’s head and perceives the present. Because: The future in the Ruhrgebiet has long since begun! The future in the area are many small, medium and large startups. Many small, medium and large companies showing other people that entrepreneurship is a way to realize themselves. Many small, medium and large companies that offer jobs to people in the Ruhr area. Just many, many foundations that show that the area has more to offer than the past.

With hundreds of startups, numerous start-up centers and initiatives, various investors and dozens of start-up events, the Ruhr Area offers an exciting ecosystem for founders. ds, the Gründerallianz Ruhr and the ruhr: HUB report together about the digital activities in the area.

Published inStartups

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