It is a pleasure to welcome to the project our new partner, WITENO GmbH, a science and technology park located in Greifswald, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (DE).
To discover how it supports the regional development in regard to digitalisation, read our interview with this great team!
From left to right: Dr. Wolfgang Blank (CEO), Alexander Schwock, Dr. Gudrun Mernitz, Lars Schimanski, Jennifer Billowie
What is Witeno and what are the activities and services it provides?
WITENO is a science & technology park as interface between science and business. We are offering our customers a flexible portfolio comprising of infrastructure, services, and consulting. Our premises cover a total area of 11,000 sqm with 2 buildings: Biotechnikum Greifswald and Technology Center Vorpommern. Two additional centres are currently under construction: a digital innovation centre (Alte Mensa Greifswald) including co-working space and digital innovation hub and a centre for bioeconomy and plasma technologies (Z4).
Why did you decide to join Next2Met?
WITENO is presently building up its digital service and infrastructure offerings. In this context, we are building with the Alte Mensa Greifswald one of 6 Digital Innovation Centres in MV in order to establish a crucial platform for establishing digital offerings, building a corresponding community, developing digital formats and tools and a wide variety of innovation instruments and event formats. As with the other project partners, this takes place in rural areas with relative proximity to the metropolises of Berlin, Hamburg and Szczecin. In this respect, WITENO is very interested in the exchange of best practices with the project partners, in the inspiration from projects, formats, ideas from the other regions and ultimately in the adaptation of its own offers or the introduction of new ones when establishing its own digital presence. Furthermore, WITENO has a long-lasting experience in international cooperation (BalticNet-PlasmaTec, ScanBalt, Contact Point South Baltic, partner in many Interreg projects).
What are the main assets and challenges of your region?
Rural areas in MV are often faced with migration to urban areas and an increasing number of the older generation, making the demographic changes obvious. Therefore, a lot of villages have a decreasing number of inhabitants which leads to a decreasing availability of goods and services and infrastructure as well as vacancy and decay of real estate. Local population often feels neglected and frustrated. However, there are a lot of local initiatives in rural areas that try to deal with the problems in innovative and creative ways.
With digitalisation there is a strong potential for the future development of MV, in urban as well as the rural areas, i.e. due to current movements towards concepts of “new work” like coworking in the countryside.
The strength of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern as a business location is based on the diversity of its economic structure: a mixture of global players, small and medium-sized enterprises and well-trained and qualified employees. The variety of industries in MV ranges from tourism, health, food and agriculture, trade, logistics, mechanical engineering, wind energy and IT services to the maritime industry. And there are highly dynamic emerging sectoral opportunities: Health economy, bioeconomy/Sustainable Foods, Smart Agri, Bio/pharma. The IT industry is becoming increasingly important for MV. In addition, there is agglomerations of research institutes close to the universities (Rostock, Greifswald, Wismar, Schwerin, Rostock, Stralsund, Neubrandenburg and Güstrow) forming clusters in different fields, like life sciences and plasma physics. Favorable factors are also the relatively low costs of living and high availability of real estate and land (especially in rural areas) and proximity to the Baltic Sea.
How do you see digitalisation and why is it essential for next2met areas according to you?
Digitalisation holds a high potential for rural areas, especially as certain industries can be effectively decentralised. With more digital goods and services we will save resources and reduce transportation efforts, transforming production in rural areas to be always more sustainable and profitable. The highest potential for our rural areas is coming with knowledge workers working in regional co-working spaces or from their rural home.
What is your definition of “soft digitalisation”?
In our understanding, soft digitalisation is the establishment of smart solutions, motivating to use technology making life easier. For industry, soft digitalisation could be the step-by-step digitalisation of the production and management processes. For citizens, soft digitalisation could mean to enjoy the freedom of choice between analogue and digital services with the goal of increasing the adoption of digital services with their various benefits.