North Rhine-Westphalia

About North Rhine-Westphalia

North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is the most populous and the most densely populated state in Germany. With its 17.9 million inhabitants, there are more people living here than in the neighboring Netherlands. More than 160 million people live within a radius of 500 km around the state capital Düsseldorf – this represents almost one third of all EU consumers. From no other location in Europe can so many people with such high purchasing power be reached within such a short distance as from NRW.

The size of the market and the favorable location conditions attracts companies from all over the world to the Rhine and Ruhr. Around 20,000 foreign companies have already invested in NRW and control their German or European activities from here. They make NRW the No.1 investment location in Germany.

  1. The heart of the German economy beats in NRW
  2. Germany’s number-one investment location
  3. World-renowned logistics expertise
  4. Where the next generation is growing

Reasons for North Rhine-Westphalia

All major European cities can be reached within three hours from the two major international airports in Düsseldorf and Cologne/Bonn, Germany's third-largest cargo airport. A dense network of waterways, railways and roads provides fast routes to the sales and procurement markets in Europe and the rest of the world. In Duisburg, the world's largest inland port ensures reliable connections to the Belgian and Dutch seaports.

More than 110 technology centers and non-university research institutes in the state form the densest research network in Europe and provide ideal conditions for technology transfer. And the wide range of studies offered by the 70 universities and universities of applied sciences ensures that companies from all industries can find qualified employees here.

Renowned theaters and museums, five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, sports events and cultural festivals all contribute to one of the richest cultural landscapes in Europe.

Success Story

Since the end of 2020, the Japanese automotive supplier Marelli has established a new production facility for electric vehicle drives on the Ford factory premises in Cologne. On an area of 18,000 square meters, the company produces 800-volt electric motors for vehicle manufacturers in Germany. Space for future expansion has already been planned. In the first step, Marelli is creating 160 new jobs in Cologne. The group, which was formed in 2019 from the merger of the Japanese company Calsonic Kansei and the Italian company Magneti Marelli, is one of the ten largest independent automotive suppliers in the world. In 2021, Marelli was winner of the NRW.Global Business Award for exemplary investments in NRW.

Powering the energy transition

Germany aims for 40–45% of its energy to come from regenerative sources by 2025 and 80% by 2050. North Rhine-Westphalia, as Germany’s largest consumer and generator of electricity, is key to this energy transition. Five of the world’s leading suppliers of wind turbine gearboxes are based in NRW, as well as Statkraft, Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy. Other pioneering forms of energy include photovoltaics and geothermal energy. While the state, with its history of heavy industry and coal, faces a challenge to go green, progress so far is impressive. Almost every second new residential building is powered primarily by green energy – a record in Germany. NRW achieved its 2020 climate targets as early as 2017, and plans to double its wind and photovoltaic energy production by 2030 to meet the Paris Climate Targets. In the field of renewable energies, around 46,000 employees already work in more than 4,700 companies.

Increasing the proportion of energy from regenerative sources by 2050

Teaching and investigating energy technology

Research and living labs

North Rhine-Westphalia’s exceptional science and research landscape – the densest in Europe – creates ideal conditions for technology transfer, particularly in the energy sector. 120 institutes at more than 30 universities, some 20 non-university research institutes, and the research departments of numerous companies are both investigating and teaching energy technology. A major focus is on transforming the “Rheinisches Revier” coalmining region, with real-world laboratory projects playing a key role. For example, the RWE “StoretoPower” project is turning a coal-fired power station into a high-performance storage location for electricity from renewable energies. Project partners include the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Aachen University of Applied Sciences. Meanwhile, the TransUrbanNRW (E.ON Energy Solutions) project involves the use of 5th generation heating networks in real-world labs as part of the transition to intelligent low-CO2 energy solutions.

Here comes the sun

Developing clean and alternative fuels is key to reducing the environmental impact of various forms of transport. Researchers in the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) “Future Fuels” project are investigating how to produce CO2-neutral synthetic fuels using solar energy and electrolysis, while looking at questions of economic viability, performance, and supply. At the DLR’s Institute of Solar Research in Jülich, the world’s largest artificial sun has been constructed as part of the “Synlight” project. It can produce light up to 10,000 times the intensity of natural solar radiation on Earth. In special reactors, processes are being tested that use concentrated solar radiation to split water directly into hydrogen and oxygen. Research is also being carried out into materials for high-temperature applications, and the facility offers new testing possibilities for aerospace and solar thermal power plants.

The green hydrogen economy

Hydrogen is key to achieving climate targets and modernising North Rhine-Westphalia’s economy and energy landscape. It helps to reduce greenhouse gases, the dependence on increasingly scarce and expensive fossil fuels, and can lead to economic growth and employment. In the future, NRW will be one of Germany’s biggest hydrogen consumers and is also well-positioned to be the country’s top production location. Alongside numerous local companies it already attracts major investment from abroad. American company Plug Power, the world’s leading provider of hydrogen fuel cells for electric mobility, recently chose the Ruhr region for its European headquarters. By mid-2022 the company will create 60 jobs in engineering labs, technical support for customers, logistics, and training.

Enapter, a Thai specialist for hydrogen technology, is building a mass production plant for highly efficient hydrogen generators in Saerback. Modular systems for producing green hydrogen will be produced and developed on the “Enapter Campus”.

The British connection

With its large population, excellent infrastructure, outstanding science and research landscape and many highly qualified employees, North Rhine-Westphalia is an extremely attractive location for British companies. Of some 20,000 foreign companies based in the state, more than 1,700 come from the UK, accounting for just over 23% of all British firms in Germany. Prominent examples include British market research company Euromonitor International in the state capital Düsseldorf, the UK’s leading online retailer of household appliances AO, and telecommunications giant Vodafone. British companies in the region have a large pool of both international and British potential employees to draw from. More than 20,000 British nationals live in the region, accounting for almost a quarter of Germany’s entire British population.

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of all British companies in Germany are located in North Rhine-Westphalia.


NRW.Global Business offers tailor-made support for your investment project. You will find your contact person either at one of our 16 offices abroad or at our headquarters in Düsseldorf. Ready, steady, grow in NRW!


NRW.Global Business GmbH
Trade & Investment Agency 
of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)

+49 211 13000-0


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