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Evaluation of the OP EFRE NRW 2014–2020 – Contribution of start-up funding to start-up development in NRW

As part of the evaluation of the OP EFRE NRW, Prognos determined the contribution made by start-up funding to start-up development in NRW. Overall, it can be concluded: The programs mainly make positive contributions to the promotion of innovative start-ups.

OP EFRE NRW (2014–2020) aims to promote new technologies and innovative companies in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The abbreviation OP EFRE NRW stands for the "Operational Program of North Rhine-Westphalia for the Promotion of Investments in Growth and Employment from the European Fund for Regional Development". The Ministry for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitisation and Energy in North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIDE NRW) asked Prognos to evaluate the program.

In this context, the effects of the support programs for the start-up of innovative and fast-growing companies and the promotion of craft company succession in NRW were examined.

Development opportunities for NRW as an innovation location

Overall, the analysis shows that the three programs funded as part of the OP ERDF 2014–2020 - START-UP University Spin-Offs NRW (SHA), Advisory Program Economy NRW (BPW), and the Master Start-Up Bonus NRW (MGP) - made positive contributions to the promotion of innovative and high-growth start-ups. In addition, they remove potential obstacles to start-ups and takeovers.

At SHA, project funding represents an elementary impetus for spin-off companies in the vast majority of the funding cases analysed. The BPW, on the other hand, benefits with above-average frequency, older people, women, or previously unemployed people. In most cases, this subsidised advice on the further development of start-up projects is considered positive. With regard to the MGP in NRW, opportunity orientation and master craftsman training represent promising foundations of the funded start-ups. Here, the mandatory advice given to applicants by the advisers to the Chambers of Trade makes an important contribution to the further development of the start-up concepts.

Recommended actions

In the context of the evaluation, specific action recommendations were developed for all three of the funding programs.

As part of the start-up university spin-offs in North Rhine-Westphalia, among other things, more attractive funding conditions should be created for universities, the funding period should be extended where justified, and the funding program should be simplified to make it even more entrepreneur-friendly. So far, the NRW start-up ecosystem has not been systematically included in the program and should therefore be specifically promoted.

The evaluation of the BPW NRW showed that the implementation period (usually three months) was sometimes too short. The entrepreneurs should also be provided with better information about the advisory services in order to facilitate the selection process.
Digital communication technology should also be put to better use in this context and for the implementation of the program as a whole. 

The MGP is a low-threshold, comparatively small-volume funding program. In order to strengthen the desired outlook, the funding placed a thematic focus on relevant future challenges for trades, for example, with regard to the digital transformation of craft businesses. An expansion of the groups targeted by the program would also have to be examined.

If the recommendations for action are considered, the funding programs that have been implemented should continue in the future.


The three programs were analysed using overarching key questions on a program-specific basis. Overall, the evaluation is based on a broad empirical basis. In addition to a detailed evaluation of funding and secondary data, online surveys of beneficiaries (666 participants), 14 case studies and 34 interviews were carried out. The results and conclusions were discussed and further developed in workshops with the program's key stakeholders.

Autor: Moritz Glettenberg, Dr Olaf Arndt, Roman Bartuli (Prognos AG), Michael Neitzel, Dr André Ortiz (InWIS Institut)

Kunde: Ministry of Economics, Innovation, Digitization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Jahr: 2020

Bereich: Economy & Innovation

Themenfeld: Strukturpolitik

Tags: EFRE, investment, North Rhine-Westphalia