MID vouchers: NRW support programme for small and medium-sized enterprises
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that digitize products, processes and services can now benefit from a special funding programme of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of NRW (MWIDE). Since June 2020, Mittelstand Innovativ & Digital (MID) has been offering vouchers. With these MID vouchers, SMEs from North Rhine-Westphalia have the opportunity to take advantage of support and consulting services and to be reimbursed for up to 80 percent of their expenses. This corresponds to a funding amount of up to € 40,000.
Examples of projects are:
- Networking of production processes and machines
- Generation of new product ideas and services through targeted customer studies
- Use of machine learning in production to increase quality
- Construction of prototypes
"With the digitalization voucher, SMEs from North Rhine-Westphalia have the opportunity to take advantage of consulting services from colleges, universities and institutes and to be reimbursed for up to 80 percent of the expenses".
Max Ellerich, Chief Engineer at the WZL
For years, the WZL has been accompanying, advising and supporting companies in digitisation measures and the introduction of innovative technologies into company procedures and production processes.
The vouchers are available for three subject areas: Digitalization, analysis and innovation. In the field of digitalization, for example, the focus can be on data acquisition, processing and autonomous decision-making to reduce waste, while in the analysis field studies on user acceptance of sustainable materials are conceivable. The establishment of pilot lines or the testing and validation of new or improved products in a representative environment are examples of potential projects in the field of innovation.
We have listed further project examples from the Customer and Process Insights area for you below.
Customer Insights - Analysis of customer behavior as key to growth
- Innovative product ideas through targeted studies of subjective customer perception (perceived quality)
Every company wants to increase its market share. By aligning products with the customer's perception, this is possible in a structured way for all industries and company sizes: from corporations in the B2C sector to SMEs as part of a supply chain. Our approach is to model perception in a data-based way and to identify optimal product parameters. This allows you to investigate, for example, the acceptance in the use of sustainable materials for production on the one hand and the willingness of your customers to pay on the other hand, and to derive action-oriented recommendations. We support you in this process starting with an environment analysis and derive studies tailored to your needs, which are planned, conducted and evaluated by us.
- Insights about your clientele (Customer Insights) through the analysis of customer and usage data
Increasing customer satisfaction is a decisive market advantage for companies in today's competitive environment. Based on customer data, which are generated in the interaction between companies and customers in sales and service as well as in the usage time of the product, customer orientation can be increased in a targeted manner. Based on our project experience, it has been shown that this potential is not yet fully exploited, especially in small and medium-sized companies, due to a lack of software solutions and expertise in analysis. We support you in the conceptual design and implementation of a system for collecting and processing customer and usage data and show how this data can be used systematically and sustainably for product development. The networking of customer data with product information is the basis for extracting customer insights such as the identification of target group characteristics and additional revenue potential.
Process Insights - Process competence for innovative technological and organizational development
- Suitability testing of operational data for the application of modern data analytics methods
In the age of data analysis and artificial intelligence, many small and medium-sized companies fear that they will oversleep important aspects of Industry 4.0. It is often unclear which issues can be addressed with data at all and whether the right data is recorded in sufficient quality. Our experience from a large number of projects shows that the data quality is often too low to perform target-oriented data analyses and improve the decision-making process. Our task is therefore to support companies in identifying important issues and to perform a context-specific review of the database. Subsequently, we can work with you to identify the necessary action to be taken in data collection and provision, which is necessary for the application of modern data analytics methods. Our overriding goal is to work with you on the path towards data-driven decisions.
- Establishment of a learning-oriented error management approach based on historical error information
Efficient error management in the sense of avoiding repetitive errors is hardly implemented in many small and medium-sized companies. This is due to the fact that there is often a lack of overview of the existing error situation and that essential core causes of the errors are not identified and consequently not eliminated. A heterogeneous or even missing documentation of the irregularities makes a meaningful analysis and evaluation difficult. In order to establish a learning-oriented error management, it is necessary to create an adequate error recording structure and clear documentation processes. We support you in establishing a reliable and homogeneous error database, which will enable you to apply modern analysis methods in the long run and thus contribute to the acceleration and sustainability of the error elimination process. The resulting cost advantages by increasing efficiency and reducing the required material and immaterial resources make a significant contribution to the competitiveness and sustainability of small and medium-sized companies.
Regardless of the sector or field of activity, the WZL is an experienced and reliable partner for the implementation of the funded measures, combining and successfully dealing with the topics of innovation, digitalization and networking in the production environment and artificial intelligence in a way that meets the requirements of SMEs in a practical way.
"The WZL employees advise the companies individually which topic is suitable for them within the scope of the funding and develop a project plan together. From the application, kick-off and as-is analysis to implementation and with continuous, intensive exchange we help the companies to achieve their goal step by step".
Marie Lindemann, branch manager of Digital in NRW and employee at the WZL
Companies interested in consulting services from the WZL are welcome to contact Max Ellerich or Marie Lindemann.