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Autor: Carolin Gattermann
Cologne, 14. May 2019. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in Germany is characterized by a strong ‘Mittelstand’, meaning Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises or ‘SMEs’. According to the Ministry for Business, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy, 99.5% of the more than 750,000 companies based in NRW are SMEs. Digitalization is posing major challenges for many of them. Often, a good innovation strategy is missing or not yet fully developed, disruptive technologies are hardly or not at all applied. For this reason, STARTPLATZ will be offering the Access Rheinland Remote Accelerator (ARRA) from September 2019 onwards. It focuses on the needs and resources of medium-sized companies and promises solutions through targeted matchmaking with international startups. The industry focuses are Industry 4.0, Digital Health and Mobility.
NRW’s largest startup accelerator STARTPLATZ looks back on over six years of experience, has helped more than 250 startups grow and has a large network of startups, digital- and innovation experts. With its branches in Cologne and Düsseldorf, it lies in the heart of the Rhineland, which has the highest concentration of medium-sized businesses in the whole of Europe. For this reason, the next strategic step for STARTPLATZ is to specifically offer a program for SMEs, called ARRA (Access Rhineland Remote Accelerator). ARRA is the first vertical B2B corporate accelerator specializing in mid-sized companies rather than large corporations. On the one hand, it helps international startups to access the German market, and on the other, it aidsSMEs in implementing their innovation strategy through targeted matchmaking with innovative startups.
Remote Accelerator minimizes risk for SMEs and startups
The program lasts three months in total, up to ten startups and five SMEs have the opportunity to participate per batch. Together with the specialists from the STARTPLATZ network, the participating SMEs first identify their challenges and problems in the context of digitalization. Through targeted matchmaking with internationally established startups, they can work directly on a solution. SMEs thus save resources for their own research and product development. ARRA is a remote accelerator, meaning that the startups are only on site in Cologne or Düsseldorf in the first phase and can then focus completely on solving the problem in their headquarters without spending time and money on finding accommodation or leaving their home market for three months. By imparting knowledge on relevant topics such as international business, fundraising and intercultural communication and being given access to the network and to capital, they minimize the risk of opening up to unknown international markets.
Strengthening business locations in NRW
Local business development agencies also benefit from the programme. The business locations will be strengthened by the settlement of international startups and the increased competitiveness of SMEs, digitalization and innovation will be promoted, and jobs will be secured and created. Dr. Lorenz Gräf, founder of STARTPLATZ, explains the motivation for the new programme: „ARRA is the missing piece in the mosaic for both STARTPLATZ and the Rhineland. The ecosystem here has developed well, but there is still a lack of international startups and cooperations between young innovative and established companies. ARRA is working precisely on these points and will continue to drive the economy in the Rhineland forward.“
Launch of the Access Rhineland Remote Accelerator in autumn 2019
Start of the first batch is September 10th 2019, startups can apply until July 30th 2019 via the ARRA website, medium-sized companies that are interested in matchmaking can apply until July 1st via the website or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information can be found at http://rhinelandaccelerator.com