Operational Programme 'North Rhine-Westphalia'

Objective 'Regional Competitiveness and Employment' co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)


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On July 19 2007, the European Commission approved the regional development programme for the German Land of North Rhine-Westphalia for the period 2007-2013, the "Operational Programme ERDF North Rhine-Westphalia 2007-2013” under the “Regional Competitiveness and Employment” objective. The total budget of the programme is around EUR 2.57 billion and the Community assistance through the ERDF amounts to around EUR 1.28 billion (approximately 5% of the total EU money invested in Germany under Cohesion policy 2007-2013).

1. The purpose and aim of the EU investment

The overall objective of the programme is the improvement of the competitiveness and adaptability of the economy and the creation of employment. On the one hand, this shall be achieved by promoting innovation and by tapping the specific strengths in the whole region. On the other hand, structurally disadvantaged areas are to be specifically supported to attain convergence.

The strategic objectives of the Operational Programme are to strengthen the entrepreneurial basis, to promote innovation and the development of a knowledge-based economy and to support a sustainable urban and regional development. “Equal opportunity for women and men and non-discrimination” and “Sustainable and ecological-friendly development” are integrated as horizontal objectives.

2. The expected impact of the investment

The programme will ensure the creation of 80 000-100 000 new jobs, of which 32 000-44 000 will be created for women. The programme will also trigger a total investment of EUR 5 billion (which is almost four times the Community assistance).

3. Priority axes

The Programme is structured into the following priority axes:

Priority 1: Strengthening the entrepreneurial basis

This first priority supports business promotion by making it easier for start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to obtain financial supports (with special focus on innovative financing instruments like revolving funds), providing consultancy programmes for start-ups and SMEs and encouraging help networks and support services.

Priority 2: Innovation and knowledge-based economy

The second priority focuses on supporting innovation processes and improving the ability for innovation of businesses and of the regions of North Rhine-Westphalia. In this context, innovation is seen as a complex process that affects the whole society and involves renewal in the areas of technology, organisation, logistics, finance, human resources, marketing and design. Here, the transformation of new knowledge and new technologies into marketable products and services is of central importance. Therefore, the co-operation of partners from science and business in internationally competitive clusters and in regional networks with specific potentials is supported as well as Research and Development (R&D) activities. The idea is to improve the energy efficiency, technology transfer, pilot projects developing innovative services and to develop the technological and research infrastructure.

Priority 3: Sustainable urban and regional development

Developing a knowledge-based economy and improving entrepreneurial and innovative potential requires good location and investment qualities. With a view to improving such location factors in less favoured regions, the State Government has already spent some amounts on the modernisation of infrastructure and decontamination of derelict industrial sites. Nevertheless, there are still disadvantaged regions, cities and urban quarters where impetus from structural funding remains necessary. Therefore, structurally disadvantaged parts of North Rhine-Westphalia are supported in upgrading economy related infrastructures, improving the ecological situation and remediating brownfield sites. The second important element of the third priority axis is formed by the integrated development of less-favoured city areas building on the experience of the URBAN programme and the promotion of local economic development.

Priority 4: Technical assistance

Financial support is available for programme administration, monitoring, evaluation and control.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'North Rhine-Westphalia'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

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Number of decision


Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Strengthening the entrepreneurial basis 254 186 163 154 186 163 408 372 326
Innovation and knowledge-based economy 635 465 408 485 465 408 1 120 930 816
Sustainable urban and regional development 381 279 245 361 279 245 742 558 490
Technical Assistance 12 500 000 12 500 000 25 000 000
Total 1 283 430 816 1 013 430 816 2 296 861 632