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Smart city start-up challenge launches in Ruhr Metropolis

The German cities of Bochum, Bottrop, Gelsenkirchen and Hagen and their business partners are seeking innovative solutions for their individual problems and development projects.

Bochum's challenge seeks a solution to review building applications more quickly
Bochum's challenge seeks a solution to review building applications more quickly

The Ruhr Metropolis is calling on start-ups from around the world to participate in Germany’s biggest smart city challenge.


The CityTech Ruhr 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 partners like Europe’s largest housing company Vonovia SE and soccer club Schalke 04, for innovative ideas and solutions for their individual problems and development projects.


Exchanging information


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.


“Of course, it is not only about the four cities but about the whole Ruhr area,” said Thomas Eiskirch, lord mayor of Bochum. “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.”


The four challenges are outlined below:


1 The Bochum challenge: automated preliminary review of construction projects for building permits

The Building Regulations Office of the city of Bochum 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 speed up the process.


2 The Bottrop challenge: how can technology and data support economic growth for local businesses?

Bottrop is looking for a solution to reduce the increasing vacancy rate of retail and other commercial properties in the city centre. The solutions should help with attracting more people to buy, eat and use services locally and offer ways to learn more about the users of the centre to offer them targeted services and retail offers.


3 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 its members, visitors and customers a communication and community development platform powered by blockchain technology. The goal is a complete integration of an S04 token during match days and training sessions, taking into account all S04 products and marketing services. The token could also be integrated into community services (for example, event booking or ticket sales for public transport). The delivered solution could serve as a key reference for the use of blockchain technology within smart city solutions. Gelsenkirchen wants the local crypto coin to be adopted by other services and marketplaces in the city such as local retail, hospitality and tourism, for example.


4 The Hagen challenge: incentivising residents to use public transport and alternative (sustainable) means of transportation

The city of Hagen is looking for a digital solution to increase residents’ awareness of sustainable modes of transportation and incentivise them to use greener options over private cars. Start-up companies that offer solutions in the field of micro-mobility, mobility-as-a-service and others are invited to apply.


Participating start-ups get the opportunity to:

  • win a paid pilot project
  • work on real city challenges
  • be mentored by local and international experts
  • receive funding for the implementation of their solution after the successful pilot
  • earn visibility and reputation

Start-ups wishing to participate can apply until 5 April 2020 for one of the programme’s challenges at:


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