HIGH-TECH.NRW, the first business accelerator for hardware-oriented high-tech start-ups in North Rhine-Westphalia, proved to be very successful and ended with the digital Demo Day on November 13. Almost 90 guests from industry, science and the financial sector attended the event and were impressed by the lively, superb quality pitch presentations of the 12 teams participating in the intensive 10-week programme. All parties involved provided very positive feedback on the basic concept and the strategic importance of this new type of business accelerator tailored to the specific needs of high-tech startups.

In addition to the startup pitches, a panel discussion with Dr Johannes Velling, Head of the Group ‘Startups, Digital Impulses, Financing’ of the Ministry of Economics, Innovation, Digitization and Energy (MWIDE.NRW) and three deep tech founders discussed the challenges for start-ups in the high-tech sector, in particular the integration of founders into entrepreneurial ecosystems, the importance of strategic IP management as well as the access to equity capital. 

The start-ups were evaluated by an expert jury based on the pitches held. The three winning teams were awarded at the subsequent award ceremony:

  1. Team LIDROTEC has developed a laser system for the high-precision cutting of high-tech materials, such as cell phone displays and microchips. The laser system combines ultrashort pulse laser processing with the controlled use of liquids, making it faster and more precise than conventional techniques.
  2. Team FreeD Printing revolutionizes the implementation of additive manufacturing processes with a robot-based multidirectional modeling process, which builds components from several directions with freely formed layers - supporting structures are thus superfluous.
  3. Team Midel Photonics has developed high-quality laser beam-shaping elements which, thanks to their unique technology, are particularly inexpensive and always tailored to the application. This saves valuable resources in manufacturing processes in key areas such as automotive, displays, semiconductors and clean energy.

Furthermore, Heinz Brueckelmann of Cluster NMWP.NRW and Alexandre Mendes of the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) informed in a joint presentation about the genesis of HIGH-TECH.NRW and its roots in the interregional exchange of good practice during the NMP-REG project.

HIGH-TECH.NRW is a specific outcome of the NMP-REG project. The implementation of the accelerator programme has been an integral part of the NRW Action Plan and piloted with the financial support of Interreg Europe. HIGH-TECH.NRW is a state-wide accelerator initiative launched by the cluster NMWP.NRW and six leading universities in the region: Ruhr University Bochum, Technical University Dortmund, University Duisburg-Essen, Westphalian Wilhelms University Münster, University Cologne and RWTH Aachen University. The programme concentrates on mentoring and networking activities with a primary focus on hardware-based business concepts. HIGH-TECH.NRW has set up a strong and unique expert network of more than 50 mentors, coaches and strategic industry partners such as EVONIK, KIRCHHOFF Automotive, the RAG Foundation and a good dozen other companies who contribute to the high quality of the programme.