Germany’s Ruhr region is one of the largest metropolitan areas in Europe. Its strengths include the IT and healthcare industries – and digital health specialists feel they are in very good hands here. Matchmaker.Ruhr brings startups together with established companies in the region.
The digital health cluster represents the intersection of two powerful branches of the Ruhr economy: the healthcare sector and the IT industry. As a metropolitan area with more than 5 million people, some 110 hospitals, 9000 doctors’ practices, 1100 nursing homes and outpatient service providers, and 1400 pharmacies, the Ruhr is an outstanding location for companies in the health sector. The health ecosystem includes leading research institutes, innovative universities and colleges, established small and medium-sized enterprises, and promising startups. It is above all the close integration of the health sector with the equally strong IT industry that makes digital health one of the foremost clusters in the Ruhr region.
SMEs in the health industry looking for startups as partners
Small and medium-sized enterprises know that remaining successful requires that they use digitalization to boost innovation. opta data GmbH of Essen is a good example of this. This mid-sized company with some 3000 employees provides software, services, and accounting systems for the healthcare professions.
“We would like to work with innovative startups in the digital health sector in order to offer our customers new services,” reports Jana Drechsler, who is responsible for partnerships at opta data. opta data is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary and has taken an interest in the Internet platform ‘Matchmaker Ruhr’ which brings startups together with established companies. “We hope that the cooperation will provide us with fresh ideas and offer the startups significant experience in dealing with our roughly 60,000 customers.”
‘Matchmaker Ruhr’ brings startups together with established companies
As we make our way through the coronavirus crisis era, it is obvious that the digital platform Matchmaker.Ruhr has come along at just the right time. This matchmaking platform lets startups know about companies that have contracts to award or that are looking for startups as project partners. The algorithm suggests new potential business partners for startups and companies each week and keeps them up to date with business news. Many companies from the health industry are also participating, such as VISUS Health IT GmbH. Founded 20 years ago, the company now has some 200 employees and is one of the world’s leading companies in the area of digital image and information management in medicine.
Founder Jörg Holstein sees the Ruhr region as an “important motor for the digitalization of the health industry.” He names the Bochum Health Campus, where VISUS is based, as a good example of the interaction between universities, hospitals, companies, and economic development organizations in the Ruhr metropolitan area.
The Ruhr metropolitan area: also an international hub
The region is also well connected not only internally and within Germany but also internationally. One example is the active cooperation with the German-Israeli Chamber of Industry and Commerce, which provides young companies from the startup nation of Israel with contacts in the Ruhr region.
“Not everyone in Israel can immediately tell you what the Ruhr region is about,” says Charme Rykower of the Chamber team that concerns itself with foreign trade. “But at the latest when they hear that it is one of the largest metropolitan areas in Europe, it suddenly becomes quite interesting. We have also found that the economic development community in the Ruhr region is quite good at understanding the needs of startups. My impression is that the region welcomes entrepreneurs with open arms.”
Curious to find out more? Startups and established companies can register for the free platform here: Matchmaker.Ruhr.