The Ruhr Area has the most hydro­gen start-ups

Achiev­ing the cli­mate tar­gets by 2045 will require an enor­mous trans­for­ma­tion of our pro­duc­tion and eco­nom­ic process­es — this applies in par­tic­u­lar to indus­try. As an indus­tri­al cen­tre in the heart of Europe, the Ruhr region plays a lead­ing role in Europe in the devel­op­ment and use of low-emis­sion hydro­gen solu­tions. The Hydro­gen Report now pre­sent­ed shows how the ecosys­tem is dri­ving inno­va­tion through ini­tia­tives by estab­lished indus­try, a strong research land­scape and, above all, with many start-ups. H2 start-ups are bring­ing the nec­es­sary momen­tum to the hydro­gen mar­ket ramp-up — the Ruhr region and North Rhine-West­phalia have devel­oped into the lead­ing loca­tion in Ger­many in this respect, although the poten­tial is still far from exhausted.

Key find­ings of the study:

  • Eco­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion is the basis: Hydro­gen will play a fun­da­men­tal role in the ener­gy tran­si­tion in the com­ing decades — the 24-fold increase in new elec­trol­y­sis capac­i­ties world­wide each year between 2014 and 2019 already indi­cates the enor­mous mar­ket vol­ume of the sector.
  • Research momen­tum is increas­ing world­wide: Hydro­gen research is gain­ing momen­tum, as evi­denced, among oth­er things, by the sig­nif­i­cant increase in patents in the field of elec­trol­y­sis. At the same time, Ger­many and Europe are in dan­ger of los­ing out because of the lack of speed in trans­fer­ring this knowl­edge into practice.
  • More start-up invest­ments in the H2 sec­tor: The high attrac­tive­ness of the hydro­gen sec­tor is also reflect­ed in grow­ing invest­ment sums. Invest­ment in Euro­pean star­tups increased from €6 mil­lion to €69 mil­lion between 2015 and 2020. And in the USA, invest­ments in the triple-dig­it mil­lion range are already tak­ing place.
  • The Ruhr region is a lead­ing H2start­up clus­ter: Star­tups are a key vehi­cle for accel­er­at­ing the devel­op­ment of the hydro­gen econ­o­my. North Rhine-West­phalia and Bavaria account for more than half of these com­pa­nies, with the Ruhr region and the Munich area stand­ing out as clus­ters with 18 % each.

In order to be at the fore­front of glob­al com­pe­ti­tion in the hydro­gen mar­ket ramp-up, the ecosys­tem in Ger­many and the Ruhr region must be fur­ther strength­ened. In this con­text, three key rec­om­men­da­tions can be for­mu­lat­ed with the report:

  • H2 research in the Ruhr Area should be appli­ca­tion-ori­ent­ed and even more broad­ly based . To this end, the fund­ing of exist­ing insti­tu­tions must be eval­u­at­ed and poten­tial for expan­sion — espe­cial­ly at the inter­faces to prac­ti­cal and coop­er­a­tive projects — must be identified.
  • In order to increase the num­ber of H2 start-ups, there is a need for a cross-uni­ver­si­ty con­tact point for those inter­est­ed in start­ing up in this sec­tor — com­pa­ra­ble insti­tu­tions in oth­er fields of tech­nol­o­gy can serve as a mod­el here.
  • In order to accel­er­ate devel­op­ments towards the mar­ket, strate­gic part­ner­ships should be pushed: To this end, it is nec­es­sary to strength­en appro­pri­ate for­mats for coop­er­a­tion between star­tups and estab­lished busi­ness­es — there is a need for exper­i­men­tal fields that min­i­mize effort and costs for both sides.

The report “Hydro­gen start-ups are dri­vers of inno­va­tion — an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the Ruhr region” can be down­loaded here: Ger­man & Eng­lish