The government provides small- and medium-sized companies with expert guidance and advice on how to take part in the digital transformation, through a cross-sectoral programme of knowledge and technology transfer.
SMALL BUSINESSES STRUGGLE TO DIGITALISE
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are essential to European industries. They are the guarantors of prosperity, both as employers and innovators. The digital transformation offers great opportunities for SMEs, but also the risk of widening the gap between large and small enterprises. Due to a lack of IT specialists and suitable databases, SMEs have structural disadvantages that limit their capacity to participate in the digital transformation.
TRANSFERING KNOWLEDGE AND TECHNOLOGY
The aim of the government initiative “Mittelstand-Digital” (Mittelstand refers to medium-sized companies) is to close this gap and promote SMEs as the guarantors of prosperity in the digital age. “Mittelstand-Digital” provides a broad range of nationwide and provider-neutral offers, free of charge for SMEs across all industries. The initiative is cross-sectoral and cross-thematic, supporting knowledge and technology transfer to SMEs. The concept is that of a "one-stop-shop" that provides a contact point for all SMEs, regardless of their sector and degree of digitalisation, with the centres deliberately distributed throughout the whole country. The centres will help companies assess their own digital efforts, develop a digitalisation roadmap tailored to their individual needs, and support them as they select and implement specific actions.
EXPERTS FROM VARIOUS FIELDS
More than 1,000 digitalisation experts are now located in 26 "Mittelstand 4.0 Centres of Excellence". From workshops and training sessions to pilot projects and webinars, all of the services offered by the centres are impartial, easy to understand, and specifically designed with SMEs in mind. In addition to the classic Industry 4.0 topics such as sensor technology, robotics, and 3D printing, topics like new work- and platform-based business models are also addressed. Furthermore, the centres support more advanced digitalisation topics, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain, with more than fifty AI-experts located in the centres. In addition, the broad media presence of this programme disseminates information about the challenges SMEs face in terms of digitalisation, which creates greater societal awareness about SMEs and their important role in the economy. In this way, the programme initiates societal debates on how the digital transformation can be a success for everyone in society.
The digital transformation of the SME sector, Germany’s “Mittelstand”, is crucial for growth and prosperity in Germany. “Mittelstand Digital”, a nationwide network of experts in the field of business, academia, and the executive, offers SMEs tailored help with all aspects of digitalisation. The project delivers support in the form of cross-sectoral networking, the transfer of expertise, and practical and transferable model solutions for digital applications.