Practical and innovative: our Universität zu Lübeck helps SMEs network their IT systems, process big data volumes and recognise patterns
Roughly 250 guests from business, politics, universities and research centres were present on 6 December 2018 for the opening ceremony of the SME 4.0 Centre of Excellence in Kiel (SME = small to mid-sized companies). This Center of Excellence is a part of the SME Digital Initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), and unites six partners of the consortium located in Kiel, Lübeck and Neumünster. Established initially for three years, this project aims to support and guide SMEs with digitisation and networking of domestic players.
At the opening ceremony, Prof. Dr Martin Leucker, Spokesperson in Lübeck for the Center of Excellence, said, “This centre of excellence will empower us to provide targeted support for our partners, the SMEs.” Prof. Leucker is the Director of the Institute for Software Engineering and Programming Languages at the Universität zu Lübeck.
Companies can get access to current knowledge derived from R&D on the issue of interoperability from the Informatics, Natural Sciences and Engineering departments at our Universität zu Lübeck (motto: "Im Focus das Leben"). A part of this is the core theme of Industry 4.0 – networking diverse IT systems in companies and beyond. Other examples are collecting and processing big data, or using AI (artificial intelligence) to recognise patterns.
Addressing Problems Faced by SMEs
In his keynote, Dr Bernd Buchholz, the Minister of Economic Affairs for Schleswig-Holstein pointed out the unique business structure of the real North. Since the state of Schleswig-Holstein is dominated by SMEs, he stated that it’s easily conceivable to shelve profound restructuring. Yet, entrepreneurs in Schleswig-Holstein should not balk at changes accompanying digitisation, adding, “Although the SME 4.0 Center of Excellence will be run by universities, the goal here is not to simply do research for publication in scientific journals. It has to do with addressing problems faced by SMEs. It has to do with practice and transparency. Competent knowledge is accessible – and, therefore, I urge businesses in this state to welcome this newly created service.”
The Federal Government is providing funds of about € 4 million for this Centre of Excellence over the next three years. This is intended to be the first stop for SMEs in Schleswig-Holstein to get answers to questions involving digitisation. Dr Andreas Goerdeler (Head, Sub-Department for the National and European Digital Agenda in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy), welcomed the state of Schleswig-Holstein into the SME Digital Initiative, stating, "Through transregional centres like this, we can establish a good framework to support SMEs in their digital transformation phase. We have found that SMEs learn best from other SMEs. This centre of Excellence will help streamline this process.”
Prof. Dr-Ing. Jürgen Mallon, spokesperson of the SME 4.0 Center of Excellence in Kiel elaborates, “Together, we offer sector-specific themes in the fields of mechanical engineering, food/medical engineering, as well as in interdisciplinary aspects like business models, economic feasibility and interoperability. This combination is an effective mix that enables us to assist Schleswig-Holstein companies on digitisation issues through free events, seminars, lab tours, meetings and concrete on-site guidance.”
During the opening ceremony, visitors listened to practice-oriented talks. They gained insights into digitisation perspectives and examples of the first steps taken by a handicrafts business, the benefits of networking medical devices securely, and monitoring hygiene at a grocery store.