This week we would like to introduce you to our sixth project partner: The Institute for Information Systems (iisys) at Hof University of Applied Sciences, a public university founded in 1994 in Upper Franconia (Bavaria, Germany).

The Institute is an IT-research centre that functions as a bridge between international research and development as well as in its use in organisations and companies. Seven research groups, eight professors, about fifty scientific staff members and students are working in the fields of mobility, production, health and education. The Hof University is in charge of running projects to support medium sized companies in terms of Industry 4.0. With a high degree of digitization, the participating partners are able to analyse the current status of their companies as well as their business environment more precisely and make more accurate forecasts. “We work very closely with different stakeholders who have an important role in improving technology transfer and creating an effective innovation ecosystem”, explains Anne-Christine Habbel, Managing Director of the Institute for Information Systems.

The Hof University is situated in the Upper Franconian region and is characterised by the second highest density of industrial working places in Europe, a big part of them supplying industry for automobiles. Especially the Eastern Part of Upper Franconia is one of the regions with still a lot of economic potential, that's why there is a specific need for improving the environment for Industry 4.0. The range of manufacturing SMEs is wide: mechanical engineering, plastics processing, glass production, technical textiles, technical ceramics, electronic devices, optical products or car manufacturing.

The Hof University will bring in good practices of Industry 4.0 to the DIGITAL REGIONS project and active support in setting up a new network. “Work in the project will be used to merge our regional stakeholders more and more into the subject of Industry 4.0. The first step is to bring this knowledge into the region and then convince companies to future directions according to RIS3”, continues Anne-Christine Habbel.

Through DIGITAL REGIONS, German partners will address the ‘ERDF Operational Programme under the Investment for Growth and Employment Objective, Bavaria 2014-2020’ policy instrument. The aim is to improve the work of the Institute for Information Systems by implementing new projects in order to strengthen the innovative capacity of SMEs and to support industry 4.0. “This is one of the first Interreg Europe projects approved in Bavaria therefore the structures still have to be defined. The idea is to use the project to find more partner companies and organisations to work and cooperate with and embed the results coming from the aforementioned new projects into the policy instrument”

According to the iisys Managing Director, the goal is a better networking between Science and Economy and the creation of a business environment that promotes innovation and sustainable economic growth while ensuring attractive jobs and contributing to an environmentally friendly development of the region. Furthermore, by improving technology transfer, the innovation capacity of SMEs that collaborate closely with University of Applied Sciences is supposed to be strengthened.

“The desire to participate in the Interreg project DIGITAL REGIONS stems from the fact that the iisys strives for an international exchange of experience. Already one of our research groups is intensively working internationally, but we want to further expand our radius of effect in this direction. The external view on one's own work offers the possibility to compare structures, research and ideas and to further develop them. Germany and Bavaria are part of the European community, which can be strengthened by this project”. 

Besides the great research and economic opportunities, that Upper Franconia has to offer, Hof has a colourful and diverse cultural ecosystem. The city and its institutions, associations and private initiatives encourage a very active music, film and art scene. Residents can enjoy an evening at the theatre, at the “In.Die.musik”-festival or at the Hofer-Moviedays. All of these opportunities combined make for an appealing living environment for students and researchers at the Hof University as well as for employees at the SMEs of Upper Franconia.