Main Stage Topics

Startups & Space 

Space used to be a purely governmental matter and was publicly financed with tax money. With the so-called new space movement, it has now also arrived in the private sector and in the startup world. What Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have demonstrated with large space projects is also motivating many young engineers and founders to get involved in the space industry with their own innovations. The first German new-space startups include Aerospace, Yuri, EightyLeo, LiveEO, Rocket Factory Augsburg and HyImpusle. In order to provide a German “spaceport” to the growing new-space location, several German aerospace companies joined forces at the end of 2020 and founded the “German Offshore Spaceport Alliance” (GOSA). The goal is for mini-rockets to send satellites into space from Germany’s territorial waters in the North Sea. GOSA aims to offer launches from the North Sea starting in 2023.

Quantum computing 

A quantum computer, unlike a classical computer, uses quantum mechanical states rather than electrical states. In the past, there have been several prototype realization approaches, and for the past three years or so, many governments and research organizations, as well as major computer and technology companies worldwide, have been investing in the development of quantum computers. Quantum computers are seen as key technologies of the 21st century and, thanks to their computing power, promise to enable applications that are not feasible even with state-of-the-art supercomputers, such as complex simulations in the chemical and insurance industries. The major initiatives and investment projects are now increasingly attracting young engineers and founders as well as investors to get involved in the world of quantum computing with their own startups and to occupy future markets. Examples of German quantum computing startups include HQS Quantum Simulations, JoS Quantum, Kiutra, NVision, Quantum Optics Jena and Quartiq. 

B2B platforms 

Digital platforms from Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple (FAMGA for short) now dominate consumer markets worldwide and benefit from the platform economy or network effects with ever decreasing marginal costs and increasing platform value. The platform economy has now also reached the B2B sector: new providers are disrupting traditional industry sectors with their marketplaces, exchanges and collaboration platforms. However, no global oligopoly will emerge in the B2B platform market as in B2C, because B2B platforms focus strongly on individual industry sectors – some of them geographically limited – and have to penetrate them deeply, i.e. scaling opportunities across multiple sectors are very limited. This enables a global market for hundreds of specialized B2B platforms, with 2-3 leading platforms per sector. Platform startups from NRW have a good chance to become one of the leading, possibly even global platforms in their respective industry sector; in NRW, 1-2 dozen of the B2B platform startups can develop into solid, larger mid-sized companies in the long run, e.g. Metalshub and Leroma from Düsseldorf.