BeyondConventions: start-ups pitch for digital solutions in the Metropolis Ruhr

Heinrich Hiesinger reveals why the Metropolis Ruhr offers great potential for the start-up scene

The German industrial group thyssenkrupp records an annual turnover of €41.5 billion. The group employs almost 160,000 people in 79 countries. Yet it is open to external, creative start-up ideas. 

BeyondConventions: innovative, international event format

‘We were looking for a format in which companies and start-ups could work together in a way that benefits everybody,’ says thyssenkrupp boss Heinrich Hiesinger. At the BeyondConventions pitch event, FUNKE MEDIEN NRW, innogy, Open Grid Europe, Schacht One (Haniel) and thyssenkrupp, in collaboration with Ruhr:HUB, CAMP Essen and the Ruhr initiative group, hoped to find start-up partners for their current digital challenges. For the corporations, it was the first time for them to collaborate with start-ups in this manner. At the pitch event at thyssenkrupp headquarters, the corporations were looking for the expertise of young, creative companies after the application phase. Specific orders and pilot projects for the best concepts were up for grabs.


Global start-up tenders for real, digital challenges

The companies defined real challenges from their business areas and made them available worldwide for pitches. More than 220 applications were received. In the final phase of BeyondConventions, 35 start-ups presented potential solutions for the corporations’ projects. Most of the creative minds came from Germany, with applicants also coming from France, the USA and New Zealand. They enjoyed the opportunity to meet decision makers from major companies as well as gaining insider knowledge of the solutions these companies are currently looking for in relation to their digitisation processes.

For example, they were looking for an app to highlight the importance of natural gas in the energy transition, or a chatbot to support recruitment based on artificial intelligence. Other examples included new functions for voice-operated virtual assistants, such as Siri, and drones to document construction progress in industrial plants.

‘The Ruhr region is an industrial location. This means that when start-ups have a great solution, all the companies that could market this solution to customers are located nearby. And this is a great benefit of this location,’ Hiesinger remarks on the B2B potential of business ideas. He continues: ‘The ecosystem for start-ups that has developed here in recent years is extremely impressive. Things are really happening here.’