This week we stop our virtual tour across Europe in Germany, in the region of Upper Franconia (Bavaria), to talk with our partners from Hof University. DIGITAL REGIONS project partner and Head of Research Marketing at Hof University of Applied Sciences, Anne-Christine Habbel, tells us more about how our interreg project is performing in the region.

Why is the project needed in your region?

Digital Transformation and the use of such technologies is one of the most important issues for SMEs to keep up with the competition and increase their growth. Based on a survey Hof University has conducted within the framework of the DIGITAL REGIONS project, the results have shown, that even though over 90% of SMEs in Upper Franconia are familiar with the Industry 4.0 concept, 70% do not have a good digitalisation strategy. Hof University therefore aims at helping SMEs with their digitalisation process through improving the funding ecosystem and / or starting a technology-transfer-project with Hof University.

What have you learnt from project partners?

In short: Other project partners have similar issues. In Switzerland for example the funding structure is also very advanced, but more often than not, companies do not seem to know or use them. An improved network and more information flow could be a solution to this problem.

Are you inspired by any good practices shared?

Of course! The FabLab Network in Slovenia shows how good and effective networking can be in order to get the digital transformation process in rural regions started. The big Spanish projects like SAMT or MITTIC are excellent examples on how technological modernisation and innovation can be incorporated on a large scale. And when you look at the Digitalization Parkour in Switzerland you’ll learn a lot about how best to get SMEs “in touch” and “hands on” with digital technologies. Due to these inspirations a new project has been develop at Hof University, which is called “MOONRISE” - REGION.innovativ - Working environments of the future in structurally weak regions.

How are stakeholders engaging in your region?

Our stakeholder group consists of a permanent circle with ca. 12 people representing the economic sector, the government, chambers, associations and various networks. Due to their knowledge and experience we have regular meetings with productive discussions and new ideas. The Stakeholder-Meetings have been so productive and helpful, that we and our Stakeholders are currently thinking about making this Stakeholder-Group a continuous entity, which shall last beyond the project’s duration.

What other ideas would you like to share?

  1. Digitalisation should not regard as a short time project, but a long term, sustainable strategy. Together with our project partners and stakeholders in the region we are aiming at helping SMEs to start their digitalisation process.
  2. We once more discovered the world of European projects as a successful collaboration tool. This is why we search for new partners and new projects on an international level.