United from the start: investing in growth markets in the region.

The Rhine-Ruhr technology hub has excellent local conditions, enormous innovative strength and great start-up potential. However, until now it lacked the capital to fund early-stage companies and to create momentum for entrepreneurship and growth. With the objective to close this gap, Initiativkreis Ruhr and NRW.BANK jointly initiated Gründerfonds Ruhr in 2017, the region’s first private-sector early-stage fund.

Thanks to the combined expertise of the region’s strongest business association, Initiativkreis Ruhr, and NRW.BANK’s expertise in early-stage financing and the management of equity funds, Gründerfonds Ruhr is optimally positioned to strengthen entrepreneurs and start-ups in the region. The Gründerfonds Ruhr not only provides venture capital, but also offers comprehensive insights into the relevant lead markets and technologies, direct access to the industry as well as expert advice for strategic and operational decisions through its professional partner network.

Initiativkreis Ruhr

More than 70 companies and institutions form a strong regional economic alliance. Initiativkreis Ruhr acts as a change agent. Its members are united by the goal of accelerating the development of the Ruhr region and sustainably strengthening its future and competitiveness. Key action areas are business, education and culture. This impetus has initiated flagship projects with significant impact, including the initiative to promote innovative start-ups.


The NRW.BANK is North Rhine-Westphalia’s development bank and the largest state development bank in Germany. It supports North Rhine-Westphalia in its structural and economic policy tasks. Through its three development segments "Economy", "Housing" and "Infrastructure/Municipalities", NRW.BANK offers a broad range of development instruments: from low-interest development loans to equity finance and advisory services. NRW.BANK invests one third of its total promotion funds in start-ups and SMEs, promoting the digital turnaround and sustainability initiatives in NRW. Its equity capital portfolio covers various sectors, such as digital economy, biotechnology, environmental technology, renewable energy and creative industries.

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