Entrepreneurship and transfer in business and society is a very important topic at the UA Ruhr. The universities have been involved in numerous projects for many years and are continuously expanding their joint activities.


The UA Ruhr jointly promotes knowledge transfer, innovation and business start-ups and so contributes to the Ruhr area’s structural transformation from an industrial into a knowledge-driven region. By fostering research-based start-ups, building networks between academia and industry and providing further education for qualified specialists, we empower the Ruhr area to meet the challenges and advance the transformation processes of the 21st century. Our transfer-related activities fall into the following categories:

Support for start-ups

Thanks to its diverse higher education landscape and multitude of businesses, the Ruhr area offers a fertile environment for start-ups. With its start-up support initiatives, the UA Ruhr helps drive knowledge transfer, entrepreneurship and innovation in the region.

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Founder Initiative Ruhr

The Founder Initiative Ruhr was established in 2017 as a joint UA Ruhr platform for coordinating start-up support initiatives, the transfer of knowledge and technology as well as initiating new projects.The aim is to increase the visibility of the Ruhr area as a region for start-ups and transfer, and to establish a network that connects researchers, businesses and investors.

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Memorandum of Understanding with BRYCK

Since 2023, the UA Ruhr has been cooperating with the BRYCK start-up and innovation hub initiated by the RAG-Stiftung foundation, whose support programs have already helped numerous start-ups in fields such as energy, health and hydrogen. The BRYCK network connects researchers, founders and businesses. Its cooperation with the UA Ruhr is intended to strenghten the start-up ecosystem and increase the number of new enterprises in the Ruhr area.

Knowledge transfer

With further education initiatives such as the Ruhr School of Design Thinking and the EUREF-Talent Campus, the UA Ruhr is committed to promoting innovation in the Ruhr area.

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Ruhr School of Design Thinking

The Ruhr School of Design Thinking aims to shape the structural change in the Ruhr area through interdisciplinary, innovative and transfer-focused teaching and research. It is a space where institutions and businesses from the region as well as ten chairs of the UA Ruhr universities collaborate under the slogan “Converting industrial culture into a culture of innovation.” They show how design thinking can be used as a method in teaching, research and business in order to accompany the digital and social transformation processes in the Ruhr area.

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EUREF-Talent Campus

Together with the Hochschule Düsseldorf – University of Applied Sciences, the UA Ruhr plans to offer several international master's study programs in order to equip qualified specialists with the skills necessary for the energy transition. Starting in 2025, the EUREF-Talent Campus in Düsseldorf will offer continuing education programs on future-oriented topics such as energy, construction and mobility providing specialized knowledge on sustainable technologies.

Industry relations

The UA Ruhr works together with the Initiativkreis Ruhr business association and companies in the region in order to deepen the exchange between industry and academia in the Ruhr area.

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Initiativkreis Ruhr

Since 2016, the three UA Ruhr universities have been members of the Initiativkreis Ruhr, a business association of more than 70 companies and institutions in the Ruhr area. Together, the Initiativkreis Ruhr constitutes a strong network that implements projects that drive the social and economic transformation of the region.

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CEO Dialog

The CEO Dialog is a lecture series jointly organized by the UA Ruhr and the Initiativkreis Ruhr. It brings together students and chief executive officers from the Ruhr area to discuss business-related topics and challenges, thus promoting the exchange between industry and the qualified specialists of the future. Initiated in 2017, the event was held for the tenth time in 2023.

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Ruhr Fellowship Program

Each year since 2012, the Ruhr Fellowship Program has enabled 20 students from the United States to gain intercultural, linguistic and professional experience through an intensive program in the Ruhr area. As part of the program, the students complete an internship in one of the leading companies in the region.

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Wirtschaftskolleg at the Research Academy Ruhr

The Wirtschaftskolleg event at the Research Academy Ruhr brings together doctoral candidates, postdoctoral researchers and representatives from industry and the public, providing the early career researchers with first-hand information on career opportunities outside academia.

Honors and awards

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Forum Junge Spitzenforschung award

In the Forum Junge Spitzenforschung science competition, early career researchers from the Ruhr area present practical ideas and innovative approaches to current challenges of the industry. The award was granted for the first time in 2024 by TU Dortmund University’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Transfer (CET) and TU concept GmbH. In the future, researchers from the Ruhr metropolitan region will have the opportunity to present their projects to a jury composed of experts from academia and industry once a year. The competition is sponsored by the Stiftung Industrieforschung foundation.

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Triple success for the UA Ruhr at the Innovation Prize NRW 2023

Since 2008, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has been awarding the Innovation Prize to people who enable economic progress in its territory through practice-oriented solutions to problems, a spirit of innovation and expertise. In 2023, the UA Ruhr received the main prize, which was awarded to biophysicist Prof. Dr. Klaus Gerwert (Ruhr University Bochum). Furthermore, two of our start-ups were granted prizes in the “innovation2market” and “innovation4transformation” categories. The Innovation Prize NRW is the highest endowed award of its kind in Germany after the Federal President's Deutscher Zukunftspreis.