“Digital in NRW – Competence for SMEs” will receive funding until 2020 - WZL remains Contact for Digitalization and Industry 4.0




BA Kerstin Hartmann



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The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has agreed to an extension of the competence center "Digital in NRW – Competence for SMEs" until 2020. The competence center will receive a total of 4.5 million euros in funding for two years.

  Group picture of the team Copyright: © Digital in NRW Digitalization experts for SMEs: The Digital team in NRW will continue to receive funding until 2020

Since the beginning of 2016, "Digital in NRW" has been supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the digitalization process. After the end of the first funding phase in 2018, events, workshops and lab tours can be continued further on.

The competence center has held more than 550 company meetings and organized around 280 specialist events in demo centers and at companies since 2016. The digitalization experts were represented at over 300 events and now work together with a network of over 60 cooperation partners. In the first funding phase, companies developed concrete solutions in 30 transfer and implementation projects. Research institutions are initially helping the operators to draw up a clear timetable for the major topic of Industry 4.0. For example, the Späth polishing disc factory worked together with the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University to record its operating data using sensors.

New Events in 2019: AI, Blockchain and more

In the next two years the project team of "Digital in NRW" will offer new events on important topics of digitalization. Medium-sized companies can participate in workshops, specialist groups and lab tours in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or block-chain. Proven formats from "Digital in NRW" will continue to be offered. By working together in the network of the BMWi funding priority " SME Digital", experiences are exchanged with all nationwide competence centers and strategies for digitalization in the SME sector are developed.

The BMWi funding priority informs SMEs about the opportunities and challenges of digitalization. Regional competence centers help the small retailer as well as the larger production company with expert knowledge, demonstration centers, networks for the exchange of experience and practical examples. The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy enables the free use of all offers of "SME-Digital". For the Rhineland region, the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University will continue to be available to all interested parties for all questions relating to digitalization and Industry 4.0. "We want to continue to be a competent partner for companies and SMEs and bring together industry, research and innovation in one place", stresses Prof. Robert Schmitt, Director of the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University.

"The extension of our funding by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy not only enables us to continue working, but also to develop exciting new forms. We are delighted that the work of our competence center has been honored in this way and that confidence has been placed in it for the future"

Dr. Matthias Parlings, Digital in NRW office manager for the Metropole Ruhr