CityTech RUHR: solving the modern smart city

By William Girling
CityTech RUHR bills itself as an ‘innovation spri...

CityTech RUHR bills itself as an ‘innovation sprint’, wherein companies can gain funding to bring city infrastructure into the digital era. 

One of Germany’s largest startup challenges, the event is open to participants worldwide and hopes to encourage budding tech businesses to join the global $400bn smart city market. 

Offering €10,000 in funding to each selected solution, with the possibility for even more long-term financial assistance for those which exhibit a successful pilot phase, the event sets out to inspire participants and change the face of urban areas permanently. 

Re-thinking city infrastructure

“The metropolitan Ruhr Area is the largest urban area in Germany and the third-largest in the European Union,” says the event’s website. “It consists of 53 cities within Ruhr and it is strategically located in a very important industrial part of the country.

“We will make sure you have fun, learn and share know-how with other like-minded entrepreneurs, get access to high-level mentorship, get to know the Smart City world.”

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The event itself comprises of four challenges, each named after a different city with Ruhr - an area with a population of 5.1mn. Participants will be asked to solve the specific issues of each area, issues which have wider applicability across all urban areas:

Bochum: Automation of review systems for construction projects and building permits.

Bottrop: Leveraging technology and data to benefit the local economy. 

Gelsenkirchen: Enhancing communications and financial services with blockchain.

Hagen: Finding digital solutions to encourage the usage of public and alternative transportation. 

Envisaged not just as a problem-solving exercise, but rather an opportunity to foster widespread community engagement, Thomas Eiskirch, Lord Mayor of Bochum, emphasised the event’s significance.

“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.”

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