Beyond Conventions: start-ups pitch to global players

An innovative event in the Metropolis Ruhr exceeds all expectations

More than 220 start-up companies applied to take part in the ‘Beyond Conventions’ pitch event in Essen, responding to specific project tenders from large corporations in the Metropolis Ruhr. In the final round, 35 creative minds presented their digital business ideas. The selected contenders included local teams from the Metropolis Ruhr as well as international applicants from Silicon Valley and New Zealand.

Drones, chatbots and apps: start-up ideas for industry

A start-up called Orbica from Christchurch in New Zealand had travelled the furthest distance, but there was definitely no reason to regret such a long journey: entrepreneur Kurt Janssen and his European boss Peter Rose convinced Thyssenkrupp with a drone that uses artificial intelligence to record the progress of industrial plant construction from the air. The young company is now negotiating a collaboration with the DAX-listed group based in Essen.

Artificial intelligence was also at the heart of a chatbot for Facebook Messenger presented by Bochum-based start-up Paula Pottbot. This automated response system offers a wide range of possibilities, from ticket booking for events in the Metropolis Ruhr and information about public transport to searches for accommodation and jobs. The ​​idea of the Bochum team did not come out on top in the end, but the founders appreciated the event for its great networking potential.

The ability to make contacts with decision-makers was also the major benefit of the event for Felix Friemann, Sven Christian Müller and Sebastian Ruth from Logarithmo in Dortmund. They won all three challenges that they had in their sights. The trio offers a cloud-based app store for companies with solutions such as apps that can be used to predict logistics processes and to optimise energy consumption.


The Metropolis Ruhr: an up-and-coming region for start-ups in Germany

The fact that the Metropolis Ruhr is now an up-and-coming region for start-ups in Germany was emphasised by guest speakers from the world of politics and business. Andreas Pinkwart, NRW State Minister for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitisation and Energy, was enthusiastic about Beyond Conventions, explaining that it was important for the start-up scene and the digital economy in North Rhine-Westphalia to forge links between innovative newcomers and established companies: ‘This drives forward the dynamic development of the economy.’ Thomas Kufen, mayor of Essen, stressed that innovation today does not take place in quiet little rooms or in the garage, but only together in networks: ‘And such networks are exactly what we can offer here in Essen.’

Andrew Goldstein of Deloitte Digital Ventures, who hosted the event, noted how unique Beyond Conventions was: ‘There can be no question that it is highly valuable for start-ups to enter into concrete business deals with big companies. It is a unique selling point, and I was previously unaware of such pitches.’

Another innovative aspect was the mixture of companies under one roof for the event: Funke Medien NRW, Innogy, Open Grid Europe, Schacht One (Haniel) and Thyssenkrupp looked for start-ups to tackle their digital challenges of the future together with Ruhr Hub, Camp Essen and Initiativkreis Ruhr.