CityTech RUHR: Germany’s biggest smart city startup challenge launches in the Ruhr Metropolis

CityTech RUHR: Germany’s biggest smart city startup challenge launches in the Ruhr Metropolis

Essen, April 1st, 2020: CityTech RUHR invites startups from around the world to participate in Germany’s biggest smart city challenge. Four cities and their business partners seek innovative solutions for four different challenges and offer the opportunity to win paid pilot projects. Startups that want to participate can apply until May 3, 2020 for one of the program’s challenges at:

The Ruhr Metropolis “City of Cities”, the regional Economic Development Corporation Business Metropole Ruhr along with four cities and supporting businesses have launched Germany’s largest smart city startup challenge for better cities.

The challenge is aimed at startups from all over the world that are not afraid to take on different challenges that cities within the Ruhr area face with their innovative smart city solutions. Participating startups get the opportunity to:

  • win a paid pilot project;
  • work on real city challenges;
  • be mentored by local and international experts;
  • receive funding for their solution and make real impact in the local, regional and global innovation ecosystem.
  • earn visibility and reputation through their successful pilot

The Four Challenges

The programme consists of four challenges for individual cities and their business partners in the Ruhr area. The cities of Bochum, Bottrop, Gelsenkirchen and Hagen are looking together with renowned partners like Europe’s largest housing company Vonovia SE or world-famous soccer club Schalke 04 for innovative ideas and solutions for their individual problems and development projects.

„Of course, it is not only about the four cities“, says Thomas Eiskirch, Lord Mayor of Bochum, „but about the whole Ruhr area. Even during the competition, these cities work well together and exchange information with each other. This creates a smart city spirit and we want to infect the whole metropolis with it: on the one hand to look after innovative ideas, but at the same time to develop innovative ideas that are transferable and that we want to make transferable. Because in the end we want to become Germany’s smartest region.“

The Ruhr Metropolis is the largest urban area in Germany and the third largest in the European Union. It consists of 53 cities and more than 5.1 million residents. A huge opportunity for smart city startups to scale with their innovative solutions in the region and Germany as a whole.

The Bochum Challenge: Automated preliminary review of construction projects for building permits

The first challenge is announced by the Building Regulations Office of the City of Bochum, which is looking for a solution that enables applicants to carry out an automated preliminary review of construction projects and, following this preliminary review, to submit complete and qualified building applications in order to enable a faster and less time-consuming review. The desired state of affairs would be a control system to support and relieve those involved in the approval process of building permits.

The Bottrop Challenge: How can technology and data support economic growth for local businesses?

The second challenge deals with the problem of the city of Bottrop, which is looking for a solution to reduce the increasing vacancy rate of retail and other commercial properties in the city centre. The offered solution should provide an answer to the key questions: 1) How to attract more people to buy, eat and use services locally and keep the city center vivid and attractive? 2) How to learn more about the users of the city center and offer them targeted services and retail offers?

The Gelsenkirchen / Schalke 04 Challenge: Blockchain-enabled communication and community development including payment (S04 token)

The third challenge deals with the ambition of FC Schalke 04 Football Club to offer their members, visitors and customers a communication and community development platform powered by Blockchain technology. The desired result is a complete integration of an “S04 token” during match days and training sessions, taking into account all S04 products and marketing services. It will be very well received by members and occasional guests. The token could also be integrated into community services (e.g. event booking, ticket sales for public transport). The delivered solution will be a top reference for the use of the Blockchain technology within Smart City Solutions: The City of Gelsenkirchen wants the local crypto coin to be adopted by other services and marketplaces in the city: local retail, hospitality and tourism for example.

The Hagen Challenge: Incentivizing residents to use public and alternative means of transportation

With the fourth challenge, the City of Hagen is looking for a digital solution to increase the awareness of residents for various sustainable modes of transportation that are available to the public and incentivize the use of either public transportation or more environmentally friendly ways as opposed to using private cars. Startup companies that offer solutions in the field of micro-mobility, mobility-as-a-service and others are welcome to apply. All possibilities to improve local transport alternatives are seriously considered.

The Application Process

Startups are encouraged to apply for one of the program’s challenges until May 3, 2020. All relevant information about the overall CityTech RUHR call for better cities, the individual challenges and the application process are easily accessible on the challenge website at:



Mr. Frank Speer, HUB Manager Internationalization:

About Ruhr Metropolis – Business Metropole Ruhr GmbH

The metropolitan Ruhr Area is the largest urban area in Germany and the third largest in the European Union. It consists of 53 cities within Ruhr and it is strategically located in a very important industrial part of the country.

The Business Metropole Ruhr GmbH (BMR) develops and markets the Ruhr metropolitan area as an economic region. It bundles the economic interests of the 53 towns and cities in the area. The goal is to enhance the competitiveness of the Ruhr region. This includes implementing and continuously evolving an overall economic strategy for the Ruhr metropolitan area as well as promoting the image of the area as a high-performing and innovative region, both nationally and internationally.

The challenge program is supported by:

Regionalverband Ruhr “City of Cities Campaign”, City of Bochum, Economic Development Corporation of the City of Bochum, Vonovia SE, City of Bottrop Communication Department, City of Bottrop Planning Office, Bottrop Department of Environmental Issues, Bottrop Department for Integrated Urban Development, Bottrop Social Affairs Department, Bottrop Cultural Office, Bottrop Department of Youth and Education, FC Schalke 04 Management, City of Gelsenkirchen Department for the “Connected City”, Economic Development Department of the City of Gelsenkirchen, HAGENagentur, Hagener Straßenbahn AG, Mark-E Group