Good News: Medium-sized Businesses 4.0 eStandards Competence Center Launches Second Round in August

Press release | Cologne /

Good news for small and medium-sized enterprises: The SME 4.0 eStandards Competence Center will continue to support small and medium-sized enterprises in their digitization projects with eStandards for another two years from August. For the second funding phase, new thematic priorities such as artificial intelligence (AI), sustainability, block chain and platform economy will be in the spotlight.

  • Focus on new key topics such as artificial intelligence, sustainability, block chain and platform economy
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will benefit from cooperation in joint projects with large companies in the future
  • New exciting hybrid and interactive transfer and event formats planned
  • Communication measures enhanced with podcasts, videos or interactive website tools  

The numerous new measures are being supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy with a sum of around 5.7 million euros. Particularly during the digitization push for small and medium-sized enterprises triggered by the Corona crisis, the support of digitization projects with eStandards is becoming increasingly important. Not least because of this, SMEs will be able to counter such crises with increased resilience in the future.

Successful first project period

The SME 4.0 eStandards Competence Center has been able to directly reach more than 14,000 companies in the last three years with over 850 presentations at external conferences, its own specialist events and on-site presence at trade fairs. In the open workshops in Cologne, Hagen and Leipzig alone, SMEs were able to experience digitization solutions with eStandards live on site at more than 320 events - as 'digitization to touch', so to speak. With best practices, fact sheets, the SME toolbox or the eKurier, a total of 11,000 companies were successfully sensitized to digitization with eStandards. In addition, comprehensive public relations work, both classical PR and via social media, has achieved a reach of millions. The result: 53 practical projects on digitization with eStandards have been supported across all industries. 

Additional focus on new technologies

In order to optimally prepare small and medium-sized companies for digitization in the future, the eStandards competence center is expanding its range of topics. Right at the forefront: artificial intelligence. For instance, specially trained AI trainers at the individual locations will not only use implementation projects but also many support services, demonstrators and information materials to make SMEs fit for AI.

Further highlights include the themes of platform economy and block chain technology. The potential of these new technologies for the business models of small and medium-sized enterprises will be investigated and further developed.

Sustainability in trend

The second point of focus is sustainability. This trend topic offers numerous opportunities, especially for medium-sized companies to set themselves apart from the competition and to distinguish themselves. Events on the subject of sustainability and digitisation are planned. Topic-centred communication is planned. Technology comparisons, innovative energy concepts and the use of Green Process Management in implementation projects round off the portfolio - in this context, New Work and Design Thinking play an important role in product development.

Joint projects: together even stronger

In the future, especially in view of new digital collaboration solutions, the focus will increasingly shift to collaborative implementation projects - SMEs and large companies - along the value chain. In particular, companies will increasingly collaborate in the future in the secure exchange of data via block chain or the sharing of 3D printers.

"We are pleased with the trust and confirmation of our work. At the same time, we take the positive feedback as motivation to expand our wide range of services for the digitization of medium-sized companies and to make them fit for the future," says Bettina Bartz, branch manager of the SME 4.0 eStandards Competence Center. "We can barely wait for further entrepreneurs to contact us and to be able to help accompany them to the next level of digitization, especially in these challenging times!"

Interested parties from small and medium-sized enterprises can find all information about the SME 4.0 eStandards Competence Center (in German) at

Your contact persons:

Jana Behr
Head of Public Relations
Medium-sized businesses 4.0 eStandards Competence Center
 Phone +49 221 94714-421

Dirk Böttner-Langolf 
Fraunhofer IMW
Phone +49 341 231039-250

Dr. Marija Radić
Head of Corporate Development in International Competition Division
Fraunhofer IMW
Phone +49 341 231039-124


The Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW looks back on more than twelve years of applied socio-economic research and experience at its Leipzig location. Around 170 employees from 20 countries support customers and partners from business, industry, politics, research and society to benefit from globalization and digitization as a driver for innovation. The benefits of socio-economic and applied research for people, the dynamics of a knowledge-based society and the future of industrial production are the focus of the Institute's international projects, network activities and analyses. The interdisciplinary research team provides scientifically sound support to companies, organisations, institutions, countries, municipalities and regions in strategic decision-making processes. Originally founded as the Fraunhofer Center for Central and Eastern Europe MOEZ in 2006, the content and strategic realignment of the institute, which is certified according to DIN EN ISO 9001:2015 DNV-GL, has been reflected in the new name Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW since 2016. The institute's competencies are innovation research, knowledge and technology transfer and corporate development in international competition.