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Source: LZpB NRW

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NRW State Prize

Winfried Materna

Winner of the 2001 NRW State Prize

Winfried Materna (born in 1944), co-founder of the Materna Information & Communications company and president of the Dortmund Chamber of Industry and Commerce, is a successful IT entrepreneur who has championed the Ruhr renaissance and combines an international outlook with a commitment to the region.

Winfried Materna studies metrology and control technology, electrical engineering and information technology in Berlin. In 1978, he completes his doctorate at the University of Hamburg and, in the same year, transfers to the University of Dortmund to head a research project at the information technology department there.

Rather than pursuing a career in academia, he decides in 1980 to found a company with his business partner Helmut an de Meulen. It is at this point that the personal computer starts to sweep the world. The internet is as yet undreamed of.

The new company specialises in intelligent network solutions. Its big break comes with the advent of text messaging. With over 10 million SMS text messages a day, the Materna Group becomes one of the world's largest providers of mobile data services.

Since entering the business world, Materna has been involved in promoting the local environment for investment, first as an active Junior at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and then as a representative at its Annual General Meetings.

In January 1997, he is elected president of the Dortmund Chamber of Industry and Commerce. In his work, he also has an eye for the "soft" aspects of making an area attractive for business. He supports the Dortmund Culture Foundation and also the Rhine and Ruhr areas' application to host the Olympics. He firmly believes that it is by combining all its qualities that the region can look to a successful future.

Looking back on his career to date on being awarded the State Prize, Winfried Materna concludes, "If asked to sum up my time in Dortmund on a personal level, I can safely say that I am a citizen of this city not only with all my head but also with all my heart. It has become my home. It is perhaps somewhat easier to deal with the people round here than in other parts of Germany. Because, here, successes and failures are experienced together."

The complete speech by Winfried Materna is printed in the prize-winners anthology edited by Gerd Ruge/ Jörg Schäfer: Lebensbilder-Landesbilder. Geschichten aus und über Nordrhein-Westfalen, Verlag Aschendorff GmbH&Co. KG , Münster 2003 pp. 222 - 232.

Wolfgang Hippe

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