We are planning to use regional digitalisation centres in order to create regional ‘ecosystems’ for digital innovation and regional support hubs for the digitalisation of the economy, while taking regional innovation strategies into consideration. In this way, we will establish industry-independent structures in the federal state in order to boost the digitalisation of the economy throughout our territory. The digitalisation centres are designed as places of co-operation between established – especially medium-sized – companies, start-ups and other stakeholders, such as research and transfer organisations, universities, representatives from the creative sectors, associations, chambers, business angels and venture capitalists, intermediaries in the field of innovation as well as business support and promotion bodies
They will serve as regional digitalisation hubs where stakeholders can meet in person in order to exchange experience and transfer knowledge. Maker and coworking spaces can be created in order to enable a hands-on experience of digital technologies and to develop new business models and joint digital projects. Furthermore, the hubs, as first points of contact, will help SMEs from different regions to enter the field of digitalisation.

The digitalisation of the economy is a tremendous opportunity especially for Baden-Württemberg’s businesses when in comes to creating more efficient operational processes, new products and services or innovative business models. At the same time, it is also a major challenge because the digital transformation requires a substantial adjustment effort. Many SMEs from the different sectors have a significant backlog in terms of their digital transformation. They are often at a disadvantage compared to larger enterprises. For instance, they find it more difficult to mobilise the required investment funds and a qualified workforce. Against this background, SMEs must be supported in their digital transformation efforts by providing promotional and support tools with minimum red tape.
We will provide the digitalisation bonus as an industry-independent support tool specifically for the ‘digital newbees’ among the SMEs in order to back concrete implementation steps on the way to digital transformation. We specifically want to support the introduction of digital solutions that offer significant added value for the respective company’s operational processes. At the same time, we will support the targeted professional development of the workforce in light of the newly introduced systems and applications. Based on low-threshold information and advisory services by the digital pilot and further information and networking offerings for companies, the digitalisation bonus to be introduced will be a company-specific support programme for the concrete digitalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises.

The new ‘Hightech Digital’ innovation voucher will support pilot projects in the field of research and development at established companies in conjunction with the implementation and use of digitalisation solutions. For this purpose, the existing ‘Hightech’ innovation voucher will be split up into the ‘Hightech Start-Up’ and ‘Hightech Digital’ innovation vouchers. Projects where the use of external research and development services will be supported will include, for instance, the digital transformation of business models, Industry 4.0 application projects, interconnected systems and processes, Internet of Things, smart services, high-flexibility automation, big-data projects, simulation models, use of virtual and augmented reality or embedded systems.

A joint venture capital fund will be set up by the federal state and L Bank. In order to leverage the funds from L Bank and the federal state, institutional venture partners will be attracted from Baden-Württemberg’s finance sector along with other venture capitalists. The aim is to achieve a funds volume of 50 million euro in a first round. Target groups of the new VC funds are young, technology-driven growth companies in the field of IT, Industry 4.0 and digitalisation.

Knowledge and technology transfer, technology exchange between established companies, start-up and research organisations as well as the bundling and outreach of their knowledge are vital tools when it comes to strengthening the innovative capability of the federal state’s companies even further and supporting their digital transformation. This means that scientific results will be transposed to economic value faster, with the possibility of opening up previously fallow potential for innovation among Baden-Württemberg’s medium-sized enterprises.
Against this background, we will launch a topic and industry-independent ideas competition for innovative transfer projects in order to adequately consider the specific characteristics of individual industries and companies with different levels of digitalisation. We will support innovative transfer projects in the digitalisation of the economy both for individual sectors of industry and for cross-sectional areas, such as IT security and the digitalisation of the working world. The results will directly benefit the medium-sized enterprises that are important for Baden-Württemberg, especially from the industry, crafts, commerce and service sectors, even in an international context.

In an ideas competition between model projects with subsequent project development, applicants for support are expected to show how the digitalisation of vocational training can be used specifically to design teaching and learning processes as well as to achieve improved co-operation between training companies, vocational schools and even perhaps employer-independent vocational training institutes (for instance, through the joint use of learning platforms and programmes, such as eLearning, blended learning, joint data storage and documentation, for instance, in the form of an electronic training report book). The idea is to ensure a concrete link to the profession and to develop a concept for sustainable once the project is completed. Finally, the project idea is to generate visible added value especially for the companies.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs will set up an Internet portal on the topic of the digitalisation of the federal state’s companies, specifically for SMEs. The Internet portal will be a service for employers and employees designed to enhance the transparency of existing support schemes for various sectors of industry and needs. The portal will provide companies with targeted information, for instance, regarding contact partners and current events, and additionally highlight examples of best practices.

Baden-Württemberg International (bw-i) and the chambers will jointly and continuously address digitalisation as part of targeted export and location marketing measures.
Such measures will be generally supported at political level if this enhances visibility on foreign markets and facilitates the establishment of qualified and promising contacts (‘door-opener function’).
Good examples of such measures related to digitalisation are the ‘Industry 4.0 Dialogue’ presentation event planned for the spring of 2018 in Japan and Korea focusing on production technologies, automation as well as information and communication technology and the market explorations in Silicon Valley planned by the organisation of the Chambers of Industry and Commerce and southern Sweden for the year 2018 on the topics of digital transformation and innovative business models.

The Working World 4.0 Future project studies the impact of digitalisation on the working world. As part of the ‘Working World 4.0 Future Project’, this study will develop empirically based trend descriptions of Working World 4.0 and Industry 4.0 scenarios in Baden-Württemberg for different industries. The qualitative and quantitative implementation status and design challenges will be identified from a federal-state perspective and discussed as early as possible with the (professional) public in different dialogue formats. In particular, an annual conference on Working World 4.0 will be held as part of the future project. The project will be executed by the University of Hohenheim in co-operation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. The Ministry of Economic Affairs is sponsoring the project.