The collaborative R&I project “Enterprise 4.0” connects researchers and companies in order to help them proceed on their path of digital transformation.
CLUSTERIX 2.0 good practices relate to the questions: How can clusters be used to (1) better implement RIS3, (2) introduce now innovation models (e.g. digital transformation, new innovation management tools, dev. of new business models, etc.). “Enterprise 4.0” is an example for a cluster supporting companies in digital transformation. The project was initiated by the Mechatronics-Cluster in Lower Austria in 2015 starting from the common understanding that the digital transformation process is underway in many companies, there is a lot of related research know-how available in the region and at the same time, there is a need for mutual learning and exchange of experience, a more systematic collaboration with researchers and “hands on” experimenting and testing. The project team consists of 11 companies (leading companies in its (niche-) market, no direct competitors), R&D institutes from the region but also abroad, and intermediaries facilitating the cooperation. Each company defined its own “use case” of introducing a new process or tool and benefits from the collaboration with researches and students involved in the project and finally yet importantly, from the trustful exchange with other companies that emerged with the help of the project. The learnings in the project are reported back to the regional policy maker and intermediaries enabling better understanding of companies’ requirements and resulting in eg. qualification offers, research priorities or cluster activities.
Per year and project partner: € 20,000 external costs (up to 50% co-funding from regional funding Instrument possible) + ca. 180 hours in average (involved staff: CEOs, HR, IT, technical, sales and admin staff).
Evidence of success
Well established trustful working group of companies sharing experience on digital transformation; Network of knowledge and research providers; individual learning results and good practice examples to inspire further companies, e.g. how to use VR or AR technologies for improving processes from design up to sales. The consortium decided to continue the collaboration (Enterprise 4.1). A new project addressing SME “Enterprise 4.0 SME” is about to be set up.
Digital transformation of businesses is a “matter for the boss”, i.e. it requires the involvement of high level management, as well a contribution from different departments (development to sales). The main challenge was to involve CEOs and relevant staff and to enable a trustful dialogue.
Potential for learning or transfer
There is no blueprint for a successful implementation of digital solutions. Different sectors, positions in the global value chain, or sizes of companies need different approaches. Learnings from Enterprise 4.0, which might inspire others: Start with innovative lead companies (frontrunners), start from the real needs of the companies/concrete “use cases”, create a non-competitive group to enable a trustful exchange of experience, showcase the results as “good practice cases” to inspire more companies. The learning for public authorities was to engage in the dialogue with the cluster in order to gain better understanding of companies’ requirements and shape suitable framework conditions.
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