Sure enough, as „WAZ“ and similar newspapers never grow tired of telling us, Bochum has a lot to offer: Lake Kemnade, the Bermuda3Eck, Bochum Total, the Bergbaumuseum and of course – at least some – beautiful parts of the Ruhr University. No doubt – life quality in Bochum certainly has improved since the 1950s. However, with the loss of Nokia (2008) and Opel (2014) Bochum‘s population has been dwindling in the last 20 years – from around 400.000 residents in 1994 to around 365.000 residents in 2014. So why even bother advertising Bochum as a hip city?
A wind of change
Hence, how come that the last two years saw a net migration (emigration minus immigration) of 6,000 (December/2015) and 3,000 (December/2016)? Why did the rents increase so suddenly in late 2016? What about the prices for properties that have been raised by almost 20 percent? Admittedly, there are some perfectly reasonable explanations for all those things but let us – for one moment – assume that it could be something else: What if there was actually some kind of inexplicable, unfathomed optimism in the in the city with the „pulse of steel“? The shadow resulting from the loss of Nokia and Opel as major financial partners has somehow vanished. The city embraces its identity as a university location fueled by multiculturalism and creative minds …
Imagine: You are listening to the sound of the monorail cruising overhead connecting the enlarged university grounds with the former Opel compound and the social and cultural heart of the city, the Bahnhof Langendreer. The inner city beaming with life from cultural exchange and events. The smell of food and drinks from all around the globe. A faint noise of music in the air with people all over town discussing their newest ideas in the richness of hip bars and modern cafés. Not a single week without a new exciting university-supported start-up story …
Yes, yes … I can see it … this year, Bochum will disguise itself as Stanford during carnival.
Now, let’s bring this back to reality: maybe Bochum is not exactly the world leading Silicon Valley. However, there is certainly some potential. You would have to be rather pessimistic to not be a little excited about the WorldFactory and Mark 51°7. The planned Bochumer Biennale really sounds like an exciting cultural event to look out for this year as well. Even the Campus isn’t half as dull as its exterior wants you to believe. There are some amazing projects hiding below the concrete. In 2015 MEMBRASENZ (2nd place) and IDEALearning (now: Winter-Science) (10th place), both of which are start-ups supported by the RUB, landed high ranking spots on a TOP 50 German start-ups list. All in all, there might actually be something to look forward to. Maybe it is true – maybe concrete does burn after all.