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Digitalisierung des Mittelstandes

Digitisation for SMEs

Press release from

Second funding period for the SME 4.0 competence centre "Mit uns digital!" (Go digital with us!)

"The approval of our renewal proposal acknowledges our continuous efforts over the past three years", says Professor Berend Denkena, spokesperson of the board of the SME 4.0 competence centre in Hannover. "Mit uns digital" is the first SME 4.0 competence centre in Germany to continue its work. Having received 5.3 million euros of funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy over three years (12.2015-11.2018), the BMWi will now provide 3.6 million of funding for another two years until the end of November 2020.

On 13 November, Leibniz University Hannover held a press briefing with applicants and company representatives at the Hannover Centre for Production Technology (PZH) in Garbsen. Topics included the centre''s previous projects to prepare SMEs for the digital future, as well as additional services in the second funding period. Furthermore, company representatives of the Schubs GmbH in Hamelin and ATS Elektronik in Hannover presented digitisation activities implemented in cooperation with the centre.

The competence centre, which receives funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, aims to prepare SMEs for the digital future and strengthen their competitiveness. "The transfer of knowledge between universities and SMEs is essential for economic development. More than 90 percent of companies in Lower Saxony are small and medium-sized enterprises. Their share of sales in the total value added amounts to more than 40 percent", adds Professor Denkena.

To date, the centre conducted almost 500 on-site interviews on digitisation with SMEs. Employees of the centre advised 18 companies on the implementation of digitisation strategies. The centre held 160 training courses, 90 live demonstrations, and 65 information events. The mobile factory, a converted public-transit bus, travelled through Lower Saxony 32 times. "We have surpassed our key figures for the first three years", says Michael Rehe, managing director of "Mit uns digital!".

For the second funding period, the centre intends to extend its range of services. Rehe: "When evaluating our work, we found that there is still room for improvement in some areas." For this purpose, "Mit uns digital" has developed mobile training opportunities for micro and small enterprises. "Like this, we can overcome the obstacle of long journey times for participants", says Rehe. Additionally, the centre''s range of services - especially regarding training courses - will be expanded through collaborations with other competence centres so that previously uncovered subject areas can also be addressed.

"I can thoroughly recommend the centre''s services for SMEs", says Axel Schulz, managing director of the Schubs GmbH in Hamelin. "In cooperation with the centre, we were able to create 14 new jobs for people with disabilities." A digital assistant guides them throughout the entire assembly process of control cabinets. Schulz: "Prior to that, these tasks could only be performed by specialised staff." At Schubs GmbH, the digital assistant counteracts skills shortages and is an important step towards creating an inclusive labour market.

In cooperation with the centre, the ATS Elektronik GmbH launched an indoor GPS system that locates manufacturing resources. Gerald Schroth, managing director of ATS: "With the system, companies can locate mobile equipment, such as tools or tool trolleys. With the assistance of the competence centre, we were able to develop and evaluate our solutions, thus opening up a new business area".

Speakers at the press briefing included

  • Professor Dr.-Ing. Berend Denkena, head of the Institute of Production Engineering and Machine Tools and spokesperson of the board of "Mit uns digital!"
  • Dr.-Ing. Michael Rehe, managing director of "Mit uns digital!"
  • Gerald Schroth, ATS Elektronik GmbH
  • Axel Schulz, managing director of the Schubs GmbH


Note to editors:

For further information, please contact Gerold Kuiper, public relations manager at the SME 4.0 competence centre "Mit uns digital!", (Tel. +49 511 762 18323, Email