New Access Rhineland Remote Accelerator supports Germany’s Mittelstand companies on their Digital Transformation journey - STARTPLATZ

New Access Rhineland Remote Accelerator supports Germany’s Mittelstand companies on their Digital Transformation journey

9. April 2019, 16:34 :: Accelerator | News

Autor: Kerstin Düpper

Germany has a unique competitive advantage in the global marketplace: The ‘Mittelstand’, i.e. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises or ‘SMEs’, are the envy of many developed economies and include more global market leaders than those of any other nation. However, digitalisation presents many companies with new challenges, in which they can be supported especially by innovative start-ups. The new Access Rhineland Remote Accelerator brings together mid-sized companies and selected start-ups. In this article, we explain how both parties can benefit from each other to realize their full potential.

The Mittelstand is the backbone of the German economy: These SMEs include 99% of all German private companies and account for more than half of Germany’s GDP, as well as 60% of jobs. The highest concentration of Mittelstand companies even in the whole of Europe is the Rhineland, stretching from Aachen to the metropolitan areas around Cologne and Düsseldorf. But in the recent years, the markets, on which these companies operate, are changing. The rapid development of disruptive technologies with direct applications in fields such as manufacturing, digital health and mobility, are gathering great momentum and have a tremendous impact on the prosperity and business stability of well-established Mittelstand companies. This trend, often referred to as ‘Digitisation / Digital Transformation’ or the ‘4th Industrial Revolution’, is becoming one of the hottest topics within multinational giants and SMEs alike and is perceived as a prominent driver for future growth.

The challenges of digitisation

Digitisation is bringing a lot of pressure on established companies in all fields, since it is changing the customers’ purchasing patterns and behaviours: The possibilities of the Internet have formed very well-informed target groups that expect tailored solutions which are delivered fast and efficiently. The adaptation of Industry 4.0 technologies, which include cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and cognitive computing (Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, etc), help mastering these new requirements. SMEs using these technologies are more efficient with regards to manufacturing, procurement and administrative processes, as well as more flexible and resilient to market changes. A number of German enterprises are now frontrunners in Digital Transformation. However, the majority of Mittelstand companies face the challenge of resource constraints and absence of adequate support required to explore the potentials of Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0 technologies to their advantage. This situation has continued to limit the chances of Mittelstand companies to compete with the big players, with the latter leveraging these new technologies to conquer markets once owned and controlled by SMEs. Realising this deficiency, STARTPLATZ has joined forces with a team of international startup accelerators experts to offer a lasting solution.

ARRA – Access Rhineland Remote Accelerator

Leveraging over six years of startup acceleration and corporate innovation experience, STARTPLATZ has partnered up with a team of international startup accelerator experts to develop ‘ARRA’: the Access Rhineland Remote Accelerator. The innovation programme dedicated to support Mittelstand companies in the Rhineland area in their Digital Transformation journey is the first of its kind. It aims to bridge the gap between Mittelstand and the global tech scene by engaging strategic collaborations with top international startups that are already successfully developing disruptive Industry 4.0 technologies.



By matching startups and SMEs to collaborate on a defined challenge, ARRA offers Mittelstand companies an ROI-driven framework which promotes the co-development of new products, services and business models, provides access to new disruptive technologies, and boosts cultural change within the company. ARRA is uniquely designed to explore different forms of sustainable collaborations between Mittelstand companies and international startups, while offering a large degree of flexibility in terms of resources investment.

On the other hand, ARRA enables growth-stage international startups to Introduce their business to the German market and establish strategic relations with Mittelstand companies, without physically relocating to Rhineland region in the first stage. In the course of the programme, the startups are open to explore partnership opportunities with local industry leaders, while gaining tailored access to game-changing resources that will not only boost business growth but significantly accelerate their entry into the German market. These collaborations will also facilitate the establishment of a European headquarters within the Rhineland region, which is the ideal Launchpad for international startups: It offers a solid industrial infrastructure, a well-developed ICT sector and a growing tech ecosystem in addition to a dense network of Universities which not only supply research but also new talents.

In conclusion, it has become clear that  the digital technologies of the Industry 4.0 offer numerous growth opportunities for SMEs. However, in order to fully exhaust that potential , it is necessary to establish strategic partnerships. The team of ARRA is specialised in developing a holistic Digital Transformation strategy including match-making with high potential startups, building co-innovation platforms, the adaptation of decentralised models and the acquiring of new digital skills.  

Are you a decision maker in a Mittelstand company in the Rhineland?


Feel free to initiate a conversation with our team to learn more about our innovation services and how ARRA can support your company! To get started, kindly visit our ARRA website or send us an email to

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