Shortage of skilled workers and structural change, and energy transition are three heavyweights that not only North Rhine-Westphalia will have to deal with in the future. The coal phase-out is hitting the federal state particularly hard, so a drastic rethink and far-reaching restructuring are necessary. Since March 2023, there is now funding of up to 800,000 euros available for innovative start-ups whose technologies are related to sustainability and environmental protection. The "Grüne Gründungen.NRW" (Green Start-ups.NRW) programme is designed to help environmentally friendly start-ups gain market traction more quickly. Digital innovations are accounted for just as classical R&D projects. The funds come from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which, together with the Just Transition Fund (JTF), will invest a total of 4.2 billion euros in NRW by 2027 through a comprehensive package of measures to sustainably strengthen the state's economy (see infographic).

Overview of measures in the NRW EFRE/JTF programme 2021-2027

Which topics are promoted by Grüne Gründungen.NRW?

Funding is provided for "green" technologies, processes and services that contribute to climate protection, climate adaptation, environmental protection, the conservation of resources and the preservation of biodiversity. This includes projects that have a high innovation and application potential and contribute to the transformation towards a green economy. The call for funding is intended in particular to support innovations by start-ups in the eight sub-markets of the environmental economy:

  1. Environmentally friendly energy conversion, transport and storage
  2. Energy efficiency and energy saving
  3. Materials, material efficiency and resource management
  4. Environmentally friendly mobility
  5. Water management
  6. Mitigation and protection technologies
  7. Sustainable timber and forestry
  8. Environmentally friendly agriculture

Funding is limited to the development and production of a prototype, its testing and, if necessary, subsequent refinement. These can be technical solutions as well as process innovations or digital applications (e.g. apps).

What costs are funded by Grüne Gründungen.NRW?

Eligible costs are investment, travel, personnel and external service costs (e.g. accompanying consulting services) directly related to the development and testing of the prototype. This also includes the rental of laboratory space.

The total funding per project amounts to a maximum of 800,000 euros, with funding rates of between 80 % (small companies) and 90 % (micro-enterprises). Projects can be designed for a maximum of three years and can only be started after notification of the grant.

Who is eligible for support under the Green Start-ups.NRW funding program?

Small companies based in NRW are eligible to apply,

  • whose registration in the commercial register or commencement of business activity
  • was made no more than five years ago,
  • which have not yet distributed profits
  • which have not been founded through a merger
  • are not listed on the stock exchange, and
  • develop prototypes and test their innovative business ideas on the market.
  • test their innovative business ideas on the market.

Small companies based in the EU are also eligible to apply if they carry out and exploit their project in NRW.

Joint projects with research institutions, associations, etc. are possible. However, 75% of the total funding must go to the corporate partner.

How do I submit an application to Grüne Gründungen.NRW?

The application procedure has a two-stage structure, i.e. first a sketch is submitted digitally. If this is positively reviewed, a full application may be written and submitted.

Three dates are currently published as deadlines for sketch submission:

  • until 29.06.2023
  • until 28.09.2023
  • by 29.02.2024

The scope of the outline is about ten to 15 pages and must also include a detailed cost and work plan, as well as information on assets and earnings of the start-ups to show the financial security of the own contribution.

How can EurA support me with Grüne Gründungen.NRW?

At EurA, we have more than 20 years of experience in applying for public funding for innovation projects. We support start-ups and small businesses throughout the entire innovation process. For your green innovation project, we can accompany you from the preparation of the application documents to the settlement of the funding. Our experts for sustainability, recycling, climate protection, mobility and many other innovation topics will be happy to advise you. Regarding the new funding program for green startups in NRW, you can contact our Aachen office at any time.

Author: Dr. Greta Maroun

Dr Greta Maroun

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Dr Greta Maroun

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I am holding a PhD in physical chemistry. I have been working as a project and network manager at EurA since 2020. During my career, I have acquired versatile knowledge in various physical characterization methods (e.g., IR, XRD, XPS, electron microscopy, Raman) as well as the synthesis and investigation of new (photo)catalytic semiconductor materials for green hydrogen production applications and new biodiesel engines. On this basis, I am currently in charge of establishing and supervising a technology network in the field of functional surfaces and surface engineering. I would be happy to help with any request you may have in this field.

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