Smart cities are using digital technologies to improve their services and make their urban spaces more livable for their residents. The municipalities of the Ruhr area, in Germany, are very active in this regard and rely on startups as innovative partners.
Five million people, 53 cities, 11 highways, zero coal mines: the Ruhr metropolitan area is one of Europe’s largest urban centres, and has been undergoing structural change for decades. This region formerly known for coal and steel production is on its way to becoming a modern, knowledge-based economy, with greentech, hydrogen, IT, and health among the pioneering technology clusters that it hosts. The region’s cities are continuing to accelerate this transformation, relying on smart city concepts that leverage big data and state-of-the-art technologies to achieve an improved quality of life for the people who live there. Together with research institutes and industry, they are developing digital solutions in the areas of urban mobility, energy, health, and services. This translates to many opportunities for startups, as they are welcome partners for smart city projects in the cities of the Ruhr region.
CityTech RUHR Challenge showcases the potential of partnerships
The great interest in cooperation between cities and startups was made evident in the CityTech RUHR Challenge, which was held for the first time this year. Cities from the Ruhr area defined challenges, and more than 100 startups from 27 countries submitted proposals to meet these challenges with their digital solutions.
In June, a jury awarded prizes to the three best ideas, with the winning startups receiving contracts totaling 10K for their projects in the cities of Bochum, Bottrop, and Hagen. The pilot projects were successfully implemented through the end of October, and demonstrated the innovative potential partnerships between smart cities and startups.
Faster building, better shopping, healthier living
Together with the city of Bochum, London startup Kyanite360 developed a digital platform for an automated, preliminary review of construction applications (which is based on ‘building information modeling’, or BIM). Real estate companies, the city administration, and people looking for apartments will be the ultimate beneficiaries, as this new technology allows buildings to be constructed more quickly. For the city of Bottrop, Israeli startup Placense has analyzed data on people’s movement and behavioural patterns in Bottrop’s city centre. Decision-makers in Bottrop can use the data to make the downtown area more attractive. In the third CityTech RUHR pilot project, Berlin startup Changers developed the Hagen Heroes app for the city of Hagen. This app rewards healthy and sustainable behavior on the part of the citizens of Hagen: for instance when they travel by bike more often.
A point of entry for the Ruhr metropolitan area ecosystem
For municipalities in the Ruhr region, adopting smart city concepts is not just a short-term challenge but a long-term strategy, so new opportunities are constantly emerging for companies with smart city solutions. For interested startups, the digital platform Matchmaker Ruhr is the perfect tool to search for partners: it brings together cities, institutes, established companies, and startups. Founders of startups can also use it to stay up to date on research plans, municipal projects, and upcoming tenders. Artificial intelligence helps those involved to find the right partners.
Are you curious about partnership opportunities for your startup? Check out Matchmaker Ruhr’s website for more information.