1 March 2019 - it's OWL - what is it all about

FAQ on the Leading-Edge Cluster

What is it’s OWL?
it's OWL stands for Intelligent Technical Systems OstWestfalenLippe.Germany. it’s OWL is a regional technology network of about 200 companies, research institutes and organisations which was founded in the context of the Leading-Edge Cluster Competition of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Global market leaders and cutting-edge research facilities join forces to develop new technologies, processes and methods for intelligent products and production systems, smart services and the working world of the future.

What are Intelligent Technical Systems?
Intelligent Technical Systems are the result of the interaction of engineering sciences and information science. They adapt to their environment and the behaviour of their users autonomously. On the basis of collected data, they can anticipate future events and select suitable actions without human intervention. This improves the development, setup, maintenance and life cycle management of products, machinery and equipment. It also increases their reliability, resource efficiency and user-friendliness.

What are our goals?
it's OWL is the leading network for digital transformation in medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the development of practical future technologies. With a common joint strategy and joint projects, the partners want to promote value creation and employment in the region and contribute to securing the future of production in Germany. In addition, the visibility of the region as a technology location and the attractiveness for specialists and managers are to be increased.

What effects does it's OWL achieve?
it's OWL is a strong impetus for the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry in OWL. Since the launch of the Leading-Edge Cluster in 2012, the companies have created around 8,000 new jobs. 34 companies were founded. Seven research institutes and 23 new study programmes have been created. The number of STEM students has been increased by 48 percent.

What projects have been implemented so far?
Between 2012 and 2017, 47 projects worth around EUR 100 million were implemented. Companies have developed new technologies and applications in 33 innovation projects. The spectrum ranged from automation and drive solutions to machines, vehicles and vending machines to networked production plants. In five cross-sectional projects, the research institutes have developed new technologies and methods in the areas of self-optimisation, human-machine interaction, intelligent networking, energy efficiency and systems engineering. This technology platform forms the basis for the broad-based transfer. In 171 transfer projects, SMEs were able to solve concrete operational challenges and take their first steps on the road to Industrie 4.0.

Which projects will be implemented between 2018 and 2022?
Collaboration between industry and science is a model for success and will be continued. Against the backdrop of rapid technological change, the cluster partners want to develop new solutions, services, business models and qualification offers for SMEs between 2018 and 2022. The tate of North Rhine-Westphalia is providing EUR 50 million funding for projects, at least the same sum has been pledged by industry. In total, we want to implement EUR 200 million worth of projects with the support of the federal government, the state and the EU.

In these projects, it's OWL's innovation platform will be developed further, for example through fundamental technologies, solution patterns and software libraries. Research results in new fields of technology such as artificial intelligence, platforms, digital twins, safety & security as well as advanced systems engineering will be made applicable for medium-sized companies.

Also in future, SMEs will have the opportunity to solve concrete challenges in the context of Industrie 4.0 in transfer projects in cooperation with a research institution. In addition, the aim is to identify new business ideas in the field of intelligent manufacturing and to further develop them into promising business concepts. Startups will be supported and their cooperation with companies intensified.

In addition, practical solutions for shaping the working environment of the future are developed while also involving employees. The skills and experience of companies and research institutes will be made available in training courses tailored to needs.

Which services does it’s OWL offer its partners?

  • Training courses provide employees with knowledge about new technologies and their application areas. Dialogue between companies is facilitated by the Industrie 4.0 and Systems Engineering specialist groups, in which companies discuss current developments in digital production twice a year.
  • In our demonstration centres, companies have the opportunity to experience new technologies in practice and to discuss their own applications with scientific experts.
  • A self-check enables companies to carry out an inventory of the digitalisation status of their business independently in the form of an online questionnaire.
  •  As part of a quick check, experts from it's OWL research institutes examine the production of companies and identify concrete optimisation possibilities.
  • In transfer projects, small and medium-sized companies can solve concrete challenges of digital transformation in cooperation with a research institution.
  • Start-ups and founders in the field of intelligent manufacturing receive support in developing their business concept and get access to the network.
  • Contacts to international partners in the focus countries are established.

What are transfer projects?
Small and medium-sized companies from East Westphalia-Lippe (OWL) can use new technologies in transfer projects to solve concrete challenges of digitisation in cooperation with a research institution. These challenges may include the intuitive operation of machines, improved energy management and new product development processes. Depending on the size of the company, 60 to 80 percent of the total costs of the project are funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Interested companies can consult it's OWL Clustermanagement GmbH and the transfer partners of it's OWL for advice on developing ideas and finding a research partner. Transfer partners of it's OWL are IHK Ostwestfalen, IHK Lippe, OWL Maschinenbau, InnoZent OWL and OWL GmbH.

How is it’s OWL organised?
it's OWL Clustermanagement GmbH manages the implementation of projects, the further development of the strategy, the networking of the cluster partners and the marketing for it's OWL. The sole shareholder of the GmbH is it's OWL e. V., in which the members pool their interests. The board of the association - the cluster board - is responsible for the strategic orientation of it's OWL. A scientific advisory board with internationally renowned scientists advises on the further development of the strategy. Experts from companies, research institutes and business-related organisations support the development and implementation of activities.

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