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REGION OF THE WEEK:

North Rhine-Westphalia

(15 July 2013)

North Rhine-Westphalia

EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn will be in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) on 18 July to visit the ‘Innovation City Bottrop’ project together with NRW Minister President Hannelore Kraft and to attend a regional conference in Münsterland entitled ‘Structural aid – strengthening the competitiveness of rural areas’.

With a population of around 17.8 million, North Rhine-Westphalia is the most densely populated state of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is also the fourth largest state in Germany, covering an area of 34 080 km2. With 4 of the 10 largest cities in Germany, the region is highly urbanised and urban development is one of the key areas of regional policy in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The Ruhr Valley, in the north of the region, owes its economic development to coal mining and the coal and steel industry. When these industries went into decline in the 1960s, structural changes were made which have lasted to the present day.

What are the Region’s priorities?

North Rhine-Westphalia has set three important objectives for the 2007-2013 programming period:

- SMEs and start-ups should be stronger and more active than before.

- Towns and regions should offer a more attractive and better quality of life.

- The willingness and ability to innovate should be improved throughout the state.

Creativity and innovation are the key concepts. Innovation does not just mean technical innovation. What we want are brilliant ideas – made in NRW: pioneering technologies and services, unusual forms of cooperation or new channels for transferring expertise between the research sector and the economy. Small and medium-sized enterprises will be vital to this form of inventiveness.

How does EU regional policy contribute?

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia receives EUR 1.28 billion from the ERDF between 2007 and 2031. This aid forms part of the Objective 2 programme to support the economy conversion of areas so that they can face future challenges. This aid, together with funds provided by the state government and private investors, puts around EUR 2.5 billion at the disposal of North-Rhine Westphalia for regional policy.

 

Examples of projects

Bottrop Innovation City Ruhr EU contribution:EUR 578 622

The objective of Bottrop Innovation City is to convert the city to a low energy city without any loss of status as an industrial centre, by halving both CO2 emissions and energy consumption in a pilot inner city area with around 70 000 residents and 15 000 buildings by 2020, i.e. in just ten years. Bottrop should be energy self-sufficient by 2030/2040. This means that the pilot area will generate all the energy it uses. The carbon footprint of entire residential buildings in the area, including listed buildings, will be improved in order to achieve these project objectives.

Guide4Blind – barrier-free tourism applications for the blind and visually impaired EU contribtion: EUR 1 000 000

The ‘Guide4Blind’ technology enables blind and visually impaired people to enjoy tourist attractions in the town of Soest. They can visit the old town, they can use local public transport and they can take tandem bicycle tours. Barrier-free tourist applications and navigation solutions for all means of transport have given blind and visually impaired people greater mobility. They also help to promote regional tourism. This application guides people along a path a few decimetres wide. If the user starts to drift off the path, the device gives them instructions and guides them back.

Triple-hybrid drive fuel cells – emission-free, hydrogen-fuelled urban buses in daily trials EU contribution: EUR 1 256 650

The ‘hydrogen bus’ is an innovative approach to the future of local public transport: it runs quietly and with zero emissions and has a large transport capacity and low energy consumption. The aim of the project is to fit an urban bus with a serial hybrid drive and fuel cells and to get it ready for mass production. The innovation of the bus lies in the fact that it uses fuel cells which run on hydrogen and its exhaust emissions are pure steam. The bus is part of a test vehicle series for local transport in Amsterdam and Cologne.

Flow Diverter – Development of an implant for endovascular aneurysm treatment EU contribution: EUR 618 712

phenox GmbH has developed a flow diverter, with the help of EU funds, to treat complex intracranial aneurysms. The implant allows the circulation in the aneurysm to be slowly interrupted, thereby minimising the risk of the aneurysm rupturing. This ensures that a cerebral haemorrhage can be recognised promptly and treated effectively.

 

Additional information

Objective 2 NRW (Managing authority: Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy, Industry, SMEs and Handicrafts of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia)