On our own behalf

Hydrogen startup hub H2UB developed by 1stMOVER starts regular operation - funding project of 9 million euros approved.

Germany's largest long-distance gas grid operator, Open Grid Europe (OGE), approached 1stMOVER in 2019 to further activate the hydrogen market starting up in Europe and position OGE as a key market player in it. The tool and project goal: a new hydrogen startup hub.

Over a period of one and a half years, 1stMOVER analyzed the European hydrogen market for OGE, adapted the hub concept to the hydrogen market, and applied for and carried out an initial funding project with the NRW Ministry of Economics for the hub test operation. Entstanden ist der erste Wasserstoff-Startup-Hub Europas, der H2UB.com.

Based on the successful test operation of the H2UB from October 2021 to April 2022, we have applied for a second, this time longer-term and larger funding project for regular hub operation. This has now been approved with a project volume of nine million euros. On October 29, Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, NRW Minister for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy, handed over the funding decision to the newly founded H2UB GmbH - and thus gave the official go-ahead for the H2UB regular operation.

NRW funds H2UB with 4.5 million euros
Graphic: NRW Ministry of Economic Affairs gives the go-ahead for the new hydrogen startup hub H2UB.

Profiting from the experience of the Digital Innovation Hub - digihub for short

With the digihub project led by our 1stMOVER managing directors Klemens Gaida and Peter Hornik, we were able to gain a lot of valuable experience in the areas of open innovation and hub building over six years. To this day, the digihub's goal is to promote the region's economic power in terms of digital innovation and digital transformation - through more successful digital startups in NRW and through more digitalized, i.e. strengthened, companies in NRW.

The digihub as a successful open innovation center ("hub") - as a matchmaker, accelerator, network builder and think tank for the digital economy - can serve as a blueprint for other markets and industries that are also to develop more innovative and economic power. These can also be new, nascent markets that are still in the market ramp-up phase - such as the hydrogen market.

Challenges and special features of the hydrogen market

The hydrogen market is different and not as developed as the digital market: The technologies are not yet mature and very expensive, many applications are still in pilot status. End-to-end value creation processes have also not been established. In addition, the number of startups is low - there are only just under 200 in the whole of Europe.

Therefore, an innovation center for the hydrogen market requires different approaches than the digihub: In contrast to the digihub, the scope and the program of measures of the H2UB are designed Europe-wide, with the coordination office in Essen. This office will link the few hydrogen and fuel cell startups in Europe with industry and research. On the other hand, digital startups throughout Europe are to be inspired by the new hydrogen market and become quasi new hydrogen startups with new solutions for the hydrogen market. In this way, the startup activity in the hydrogen sector is to be additionally fueled by neighboring markets and startups.

Why startups are important for new markets
Graphic: Startups are essential to the development of a sustainable hydrogen market because they drive innovation and take unconventional approaches.

Concept of the hydrogen startup hub H2UB

1stMOVER drove the project over one and a half years from the idea to the current funding decision and accompanied it over five phases:

  1. Hydrogen startup scouting and hydrogen startup ecosystem analysis - learn more
  2. Conceptual design of a new European hydrogen startup hub - learn more
  3. Partner acquisition and preparation of a funding proposal of 200,000 Euro for the new European hydrogen startup hub - learn more
  4. Initiation and operational test of the first European hydrogen startup hub - learn more
  5. Conception and application for hydrogen hub funding project with a budget of nine million euros - learn more

As a matchmaker, the new hub will bring together companies, startups and research institutions across Europe to drive new innovation ideas and projects in the field of hydrogen. Companies will receive support in innovation management, while startups will be supported with workshops, mentoring and capital. In the long term, the aim is to establish a functioning hydrogen ecosystem in Europe that will generate unique hydrogen innovations worldwide and make hydrogen and fuel cell applications viable for the future./p>

Concept of the hydrogen startup hub HH2UB Central fields of action of the hydrogen startup hub HH2UB
Graphics: The concept of the H2UB is to bring together research institutions, companies and startups. In addition to matchmaking, the hub's central fields of action consist of startup acceleration, ecosystem building, think tank and service desk for all market players. Source: Hydrogen Startup Hub H2UB.com

We are pleased and proud to have launched this project together with OGE and many partners. The new H2UB will make an important contribution to the market ramp-up of the hydrogen market in Europe and to a strong market position of NRW and its resident startups and companies.

Are you interested in working with us? Get in contact with us!