In view of the advancing digitalisation of the economy, the “Innovation Partners Lower Rhine” alliance strengthens the innovative capacity of small and medium-sized businesses in particular by supporting the conversion of new technologies into marketable products. A central component of this is the innovation consultation service with emphasis on innovation management, funding advice and technology transfer.
Under the project management of the Middle Lower Rhine chamber of industry and commerce, the Lower Rhine economic region with the business development agencies of the cities Krefeld and Mönchengladbach, the Rhine district of Neuss as well as the districts of Viersen and Kleve, the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences and the Lower Rhine chamber of industry and commerce in Duisburg submitted a successful application in 2017 to the federal state’s “NRW.Innovationspartner” funding competition. In 2018, the state announced that it would support the alliance for a further three years until 2021. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of NRW has issued the grant approval. “This includes a commitment to continue to support the project not only in the Lower Rhine region but throughout NRW until 2021,” says project coordinator Carina Culotta from the Middle Lower Rhine chamber of industry and commerce (IHK).
Over the next three years, the innovation partners will not only deal with innovation management, but also with digital change. “Innovation without a digital component is unthinkable nowadays anyway,” says Culotta. In addition to offering information meetings and individual management consultations, the alliance also plans to present digital best practice examples, organise excursions to industry 4.0 demo centres and digital enterprises, and hold intensive seminars that teach the methodological skills necessary to design innovation and digitisation processes.