On our own behalf

digihub wins tender for the Scale-up.NRW program

NRW is to be one of the top 10 startup regions in Europe by 2025. To achieve this goal, the NRW Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital published a Europe-wide call for proposals for a scale-up funding program in February 2021. We are very pleased because: Klemens Gaida and Peter Hornik have won the tender with digihub!

Scale-ups are more mature startups. They are already in the market, have paying customers, and their team is growing. They have their first VC financing in their pocket and are about to go international. Overall, their focus is on scaling.

An analysis "The Rhineland Ecosystem: Vision 2025" commissioned by the Ministry of Economics and Digital North Rhine-Westphalia from "Startup Genome" 2020 showed that NRW urgently needs to catch up in terms of scale-ups. Therefore, in February 2021, the ministry published a Europe-wide call for proposals for a scale-up funding program in NRW. This program is to support 10 to 20 of the best scale-ups from NRW each year.

Digital Innovation Hub Düsseldorf/Rhineland - Experienced Matchmaker and Accelerator

Our 1stMOVER managing directors Klemens Gaida and Peter Hornik have applied with the Digital Innovation Hub Düsseldorf / Rheinland - digihub for short - for the implementation of the Scale-up.NRW program. Both have been managing digihub since 2016 in addition to their work at 1stMOVER. The innovation hub is funded by the state of NRW, the city of Düsseldorf and other shareholders, as well as supported by many companies, chambers of commerce and business development agencies from the Rhineland. The digihub is now a successful open innovation center and works as an ecosystem matchmaker between different market players. As an accelerator, the hub promotes startups and spinoffs from companies and universities. With its Ignition accelerator program, digihub has to date supported more than 60 freshly formed startup teams from idea validation to rapid prototyping and market entry with 1.5 million euros. Together with 40 other accelerators and incubators, all of which are gathered in the portal www.accelerate.nrw, the digihub has spawned many new startups in NRW over the past five years. Today, there are more than 2000 startups in NRW. The current challenge is to turn quantity into quality, i.e., to turn the many young startups into as many successful and large companies as possible - in the best case, to produce new "unicorns.

What does a scale-up support program need to deliver? digihub conducts survey

For the application, a large survey was conducted with 30 mature startups in the Rhineland. The purpose of the survey "Digital Scale-ups in the Rhineland" was to learn exactly what the challenges, needs, and requirements are for a scale-up funding program.

Challenges Digital Scale-ups
Figure 1: In the survey "Digital Scale-ups in the Rhineland", the participating scale-ups were asked about their greatest challenges: Almost half of the respondents named the balancing act between operational business and strategic development as well as recruitment.
Measures Company growth
Chart 2: Over half of respondents want a top mentor program to support their continued growth.

We are the winner: The digihub application convinces

After several weeks of comprehensive concept development and partner identification for the application for the Scale-up.NRW program, Klemens Gaida and Peter Hornik with digihub and consortium partner German Entrepreneurship prevailed against strong competition.

Scale-up.NRW
Figure 3: Claim of digihub and German Entrepreneurship: Individualized scaling paths for startups from NRW as a key contribution to establish the NRW startup ecosystem in Europe's top 10.

Now the setup phase begins for the various, closely interlinked modules of the program, which can be used individually by the startups for their further scaling:

  • Top mentoring for strategy consulting, expert coaching and as a "door opener" to industry and investors
  • Seminars and workshops on the startups' specific scaling challenges
  • P2P learning formats for exchange and networking among the startups
  • On-site support for the internationalization of scale-ups in other countries
  • International VC activation for further growth financing

The first batch of the ten to 20 best scale-ups from NRW will start in spring 2022. After that, there will be further batches at annual intervals. In two to three years, the first unicorn candidates should emerge from the group of participants.

On October 11, a press conference with NRW Economics Minister Pinkwart was held to officially launch the Scale-up.NRW program.

The program implementation of Scale-up.NRW is a great honor and responsibility for Klemens Gaida and Peter Hornik, both are very happy about the trust placed in them. In particular, in addition to startup support, they look forward to working with many partners in the startup scene in NRW, Germany and worldwide.