High-tech start-ups

Start-ups in the high-tech sector bring innovation and growth. With 70 universities, and a large number of non-university research institutes, North Rhine-Westphalia has the best potential for high-tech start-ups.

Innovative ideas in the high-tech sector need special support.

This is because businesses in the high-tech sector are key components in the state’s economic development. They drive development and encourage innovation well beyond the confines of their own business. For this reason, start-up entrepreneurs often need to make considerable investment and thus bear a particularly high risk when setting up in business.

Special support in the high-tech sector

In North Rhine-Westphalia, there are particular funding opportunities specifically designed for high-tech businesses. For example, the following institutions offer specific support:

  •  Exzellenz Start-up Center.NRW (information in German only) and Start-up transfer NRW (information in German only) support start-ups from universities.
  • The Cluster NMWP NRW focuses on hardware-based, scalable high-tech start-ups in the field of nano- and micro technologies, new materials and photonics.
  • The Accelerator High-Tech.NRW is specifically committed to founders in this sector.
  • The Center for Nanotechnology CeNTech Münster (CeNTech) provides support to founders in the field of nanotechnology.
  • The COPT Centre for Organic Electronics | University of Cologne provides services specifically for development in the field of organic and printed electronics.
  • The incubator, known as Quick Innovation in Catalysis (QuinCat) at RWTH Aachen supports start-ups in the Green Chemistry and Engineering sector.
  • BIO.NRW – The home of Biotech network supports start-ups from an academic environment through to starting their own business and initial financing.
  • The EnergieAgentur NRW (information in German only) is an energy agency that supports start-ups with implementing innovative business models. The new Innovationsplattform NRW makes it easier for start-ups to establish networks in business and academia.
  • Thanks to the KI Accelerator Programme, provided by the DWNRW Hubs (information in German only), we are funding a tailor-made intensive support scheme for start-ups focusing on artificial intelligence.

Further support

The NRW.BANK offers a specialised consultancy service for budding technology-oriented entrepreneurs from universities and research institutions, as well as newly established innovative start-ups with its NRW.BANK.Venture Center (information in German only). The NRW.SeedCap programme is one of the specific funding options for start-up and growth financing for technology-oriented start-ups. Within the limits of a sum of 15,000 to 100,000 euros, this once again doubles the support provided by Business Angels.

In addition, via the EXIST programmes start-up grants and research transfer, the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs is promoting technology-oriented or knowledge-based start-ups from universities and other research projects.