The third round of the Start.up! Germany Tour took place in the Rhine-Ruhr Area especially in the Cities of Dusseldorf, Cologne, Duisburg, Essen, Bochum and Dortmund. Overall 55 startups from 20 countries travelled to North Rhine-Westphalia to find potential partners, investors and business contacts for their ideas and products. To broaden their business network the participants got to know the diverse facets of the region and the regional and local ecosystems. The products of the startups focused on certain sectors, hence the flagships for this tour has been „Logistics & Mobility“, „InsurTech“ and „Smart City“ in which the startups chose to be part of. In just five days (from October 27 to October 31), the startups got valuable insights of big global players, SMEs and regional institutions in the Rhine-Ruhr Area extent their knowledge.
The kick-off event of the tour took place on Sunday, October 27 at the headquarters of Europe’s biggest hotel online search engine TRIVAGO. It was the first time that the startups and participants met with each other. The participants consisting of startups, AHK-delegates and invited guests from the local economy area had the opportunity to meet & greet and get to know the business of TRIVAGO. More than 100 people have been present at the TRIVAGO headquarter. The City of Düsseldorf and the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Düsseldorf led through this evening event.
On Monday morning the partner of the Start.up! Germany Tour 2019 NRW.INVEST invited to its Knowledge Breakfast. Many startups took this chance to got to know deep insights of the business opportunities in North Rhine-Westphalia led by the team of NRW.INVEST.
After this valuable breakfast the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Dusseldorf organized the official welcoming event of the Start,up! Germany Tour 2019 at their premises, where local entrepreneurs got in touch with the international variety of the Startups. In Dusseldorf, the first corporate visits at AXA Startup Center, Mitsubishi Electric Europe and Metro AG have been organized where the startups learnt about the business opportunities and more importantly got the chance to pitch their product and business idea in front of the corporates. After these exciting and intensive program, the startups traveled to Duisburg into the Ruhr Area to attend at the biggest digital conference „WestVisons“ in NRW with more than 700 participants. The evening event took place in the landscape park north in Duisburg where the startups have been involved in speeddating sessions to exchange their ideas with local companies from the Rhine-Ruhr area besides the program of WestVisions. This event was mainly organized by the team of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Duisburg.
The second day began in Dortmund where the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Dortmund invited all startups to a Reverse Pitch event where local corporates like HELLA, Ernst & Young, VAHLE, Evonik Industries, Signal Iduna, startport and KPMG presented their businesses to the startups. Later the startups got the chance to meet Signal Iduna, Smart City Alliance and Evonik Industries at their headquarters to participate at the semi-final for the International pitch final at the RuhrSummit. This means that the startups pitched their ideas in front of a selected jury that evaluated the pitches afterwards. Two startups of each vertical should be selected to compete in the International pitch final at the second day of the RuhrSummit in Bochum, one of the biggest startup conferences in North Rhine-Westphalia. The startups joined this conference later that evening.
There they had the opportunity to meet local startups and exchange ideas at the international stage of the IHK & AHK booth. At the IHK & AHK booth the delegates from the AHKs took the opportunity to present their startup ecosystems to the audience. At the first day of the RuhrSummit the AHK-delegates from Finland, Iran, Israel, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Slovenia presented their startup ecosystems and showed the business opportunities in their countries. Later that evening the startups joined the RuhrSummit to feel the pulse of the German startup ecosystem. Some of them took the chance to participate at the world record try of the longest business pitch marathon, which eventually has been achieved.
On the next day the startups were invited to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Essen to get information about how to gain access to market, business and finance in Germany. At the same time the delegates of the AHKs from Russia, Croatia and Ghana performed at stage at the IHK & AHK booth. Antje Resech, one of the co-organizers of the Start.up! Germany Tour 2019 summarized:
„The RuhrSummit was a huge success for us. We have seen the crowd getting bigger and bigger with each presentation when our AHK colleagues presented their country’s ecosystems, shared market insights and their experience in facilitating business opportunities for startups. To see startups engaging with our speakers during and afterwards, which in turn is giving us the opportunity to talk to young entrepreneurs who are on their way towards internationalization, to understand their needs and pain points even clearer – that’s an absolute win-win for everyone in our network. Thanks for providing the platform for it & and see you again next year!“
After the event at the CCI Essen, the startups joined the RuhrSummit for the last but most interesting time. The winners of the semi-finals from the day before made it into the International Pitch Final at the RuhrSummit. At the Pitch stage the startups Bluewave Insurance (Kenya), BOMAPP (South Korea), Staffbus (Nigeria), Lula (South Africa), MobiTech (Kenya) and Sensoneo (Slovakia) competed against each other. Only the two best ranked startups from this final (Sensoneo and Bluewave Insurance) had the opportunity to pitch at the main stage of the RuhrSummit and compete with German startups in the Grand Pitch Final. The startup from Slovakia Sensoneo ranked at third place and was the best ranked international startup from the Start.up! Germany Tour 2019. The representative and sales manager of Sensoneo Michal Malík said:
„The Start.up! Germany Tour was simply amazing! To meet startups from 20 different countries and exchange experiences was extremely enriching. To find out in such a detail about all the possibilities for Startups in Germany directly from the responsible people was incredible. And finally, to compete with International and German Startups at an amazing Pitch Event such as the RuhrSummit and make 3rd place was an honor.“
The last day took place in Cologne where the startups visited the corporates Bayer AG, Insurlab and GS1. Here the startups got the chance to pitch their product and ideas in front of potential partners. The startups had lunch at the hosts and got the chance to talk to the networking hosts after their pitches. Besides pitching events the startups enjoyed a cultural visit of the Cologne Cathedral as well before the Handwerkskammer Köln invited the startups to pitches of enterprises from the Rhineland. Here the startups got into matchmakings with several enterprises such as RheinEnergie, Siemens and 1.FC Köln.
Last but not least the journey came to an honorable closure. All participants of the Start. up! Germany Tour 2019 were invited to dinner at Cologne’s famous brewhouses and enjoyed the last evening together with a very special guest. The Minister of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart came along to get to know the international startups and the organization team. Mr. Pinkwart, then, gave an inspiring speech in which he emphasized the importance of this incredible tour and the appreciation for the whole team. He described the value for North Rhine-Westphalia that so many startups from around the world are interested in the region and for the ecosystem. Of course, this dinner was also about eating and drinking. And that’s what’s happened, eventually.