Founders‘ Factory

May we introduce: The Founders‘ Factory Mönchengladbach! The project is a structural change project in the Rhenish mining area funded by the federal government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in the category “Strengthening Entrepreneurial Activity”. The joint applicants for the funding application were WFMG (Wirtschaftsförderung Mönchengladbach GmbH) and the Mittlerer Niederrhein Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and a closely associated partner is the start-up and digitization initiative nextMG e.V. Two sub-projects are united under the joint roof of the project, which essentially sees itself as a continuing education project. The first is the “Gründungsfabrik Mönchengladbach” (GFMG for short), which aims to strengthen the innovation and start-up culture in the region in order to fuel the establishment of new industries and promote innovation transfer and digital transformation in the region. The second subcomponent, “skillzUP“, serves to expand the STEM education offensive to promote and expand the STEM-affine talent pool at the site and in the region.

The team consists of (from left to right): Moritz Demandt (Project Assistant Finance), Tim Vennen (Community Management GFMG), Kim Reiners (Project Manager GFMG), Katja Schweitzer (Project Assistant Events) and Anastasia Rylnikov (Project Manager skillzUP). Photo: Andreas Baum

What are the general conditions?

The project is 90 percent funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) for a period of four years (July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2027), with the remaining ten percent provided by the NRW state government. It has a budget of just under three million euros. To this end, new positions are being created at WFMG and course programs are being developed and launched on the market. These will be offered completely free of charge, in accordance with the funding guidelines. In close coordination with players such as the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences (module GFMG) and activities such as the Junior University, CodeClubMG and others (module skillzUP), care is being taken to ensure that the various offerings do not cannibalize each other, but mesh together in a meaningful way.

Where will the project be located?

For the duration of the project, it will initially be located in the so-called Cityhaus in Rheydt, with the aim of achieving the greatest possible flexibility with regard to the location of the courses offered, particularly for skillzUP. In general, all courses will have a high digital component, and some will also be mobile. The aim is to make the project sustainable, even beyond the current funding period, and to relocate it to the site of the Mönchengladbach Knowledge Campus (former police headquarters) towards the end of the project period.

Which target groups are addressed?

The GFMG submodule is aimed at three target groups: regular company founders and innovative startups, whose ventures, business ideas and models are to be made more resilient and professionally positioned by the training program; and specialists and managers from SMEs, who are to be familiarized with startup working methods and change and innovation management processes. skillzUP is aimed at the primary target groups of young people and, with a particular focus, trainees or young professionals. It is intended to make young people fit above all in new digital programming languages and steps.

How will the GFMG course program be structured?

A course offering of just under 1,500 hours is planned for the GFMG submodule over the course of the project. Six-month course programs are offered for innovative startups and regular founders. Some modules will be offered specifically for the individual target groups, while others will be aimed equally at both target groups. The program covers all relevant phases and aspects of startups, starting from product and idea development (startups) or market preparation (regular founders) in the first month, through common modules such as taxes/legal/insurance, HR & leadership or sales & marketing, to investor acquisition & exit (startups) or sales & after sales (regular founders) at the end of the program. Behind this is an event and networking program coordinated with the course program. For the target group of SMEs, three-month programs are going tob e offered, divided into the modules Mindset, Methods and Change. Here, too, great importance is attached to interaction and interactions with the other sub-target groups, and a correspondingly adapted event and networking program is provided.

How will the skillzUP course program be structured?

The courses and offers of skillzUP are to provide the participants primarily with skills in the area of software development (programming). The content is to be taught by instructors who will teach the content of a further developed and mandatory teaching program. These specialists will be recruited from the partners’ network or on the free market. In the Department of Economics at the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, for example, students of business informatics are recruited, while in the Department of Computer Science students of the very same subject are recruited. The basic structure of the curriculum is developed in a first step with experts and tested with participants. A course offering of just under 1,600 hours of instruction is planned for the skillzUP submodule.

Where can I find more information?

You can find out more on the websites of the Founders‘ Factory at and skillzUP at In addition, Kim Katharina Reiners (GFMG, phone +49 2161 82379-764, and Anastasia Rylnikov (skillzUP, phone +49 2161 82379-765, can provide further information.