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Germany’s industrial engine and most populated state, North Rhine-Westphalia (nrw) is having a moment. Beyond the heavy manufacturing and precision engineering, and past the fairy-tale castles and dense forests, lies a chain of neat-sized municipalities whose residents are raising the profile of the region by innovative new means. Lovingly dubbed “urbanana” – a crescent-shaped constellation of cities that stretches from Bonn in the south to Bielefeld in the north – nrw’s metropolitan curve is reinventing itself with gusto. Creative industries and independent manufacturers are on the rise, while technology start-ups are sweeping the cities and neighbourhoods that they call Heim.

We decided that it was high time we visited this land of opportunity on the borders of Belgium and the Netherlands and meet the makers and doers whose ingenuity is driving the new mechanisms of progress – while sampling some of that west German hospitality in the process, of course. Willkommen in Nordrhein-Westfalen!

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