Innovation Report NRW

Oct 15 2020

NRW Business and science in North Rhine-Westphalia have great potential to continue to be a leading driver of innovation, growth and employment in Europe. This is the conclusion of a comprehensive analysis conducted by RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research together with the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), Wissenschaftsstatistik GmbH of the Donors‘ Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany (Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft) and the Centre for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Transformation (CEIT) of the Ruhr University Bochum.


Innovation Minister Prof. Pinkwart: „The expertise shows: NRW is a strong innovation state. The positive developments in university spin-offs, in research capacities for future topics, in the digital infrastructure and innovative small and medium-sized enterprises are strengths that we can use and expand. The Corona crisis in particular shows how important long-term investments are so that our companies can remain innovative and competitive in the future.“


Prof. Schmidt, President of RWI: „The digital transformation and the pursuit of climate neutrality pose major challenges for the players in the innovation system. They are challenged to make the decisive contributions to solving them. Because innovations are the key to exploiting the opportunities that lie in the necessary change.“


Strengths that can be built on are:

– Innovative large companies (especially chemical, steel, mechanical engineering sectors).

– Broad and innovative small and medium-sized enterprises.

– Broad service sector spectrum.

– Infrastructure prerequisites.

– Efficient university community.

– Established research institutions.

– Lively university spin-off scene.


In some cases, the study shows very good preconditions for the future:

– NRW has remarkable research capacities in important future topics.

– There are intensive innovation activities in the SME sector.

– In terms of digital infrastructure, NRW has strengths, which is a key prerequisite for benefiting from continuing digitisation.


The willingness of companies in NRW to innovate can be classified as high. There is room for improvement in the R&D and innovation expenditures of the economy, also resulting from the industry structure. The framework conditions for investment and venture capital must also be further improved.


The report emphasises the need for a vision for innovation policy. The goal of scoring as a top start-up region can be derived from the report.

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