The planned EDIH is located in the German region of South Westphalia. South Westphalia is an industrial region with a strong focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with more than 150 so-called “hidden champions”, i.e. those often little-known small and medium-sized enterprises that are among the European and world market leaders in niche markets. The major industrial sectors of metal production and processing as well as mechanical engineering generate 75 % of total sales in the industrial sector each year, accounting for about two-thirds of total industrial employment. South Westphalia is therefore not only the third strongest region in Germany and by far the strongest industrial region in North Rhine-Westphalia (most populous federal state in Germany), but also one of the oldest industrial regions in Europe. However, the strategic orientation of EU policies and the twin objectives of making Europe greener and more digital poses challenges for the rather traditional “old industry” within South Westphalia. The focus must therefore be on providing the best possible support for SMEs within South Westphalia in overcoming these challenges. For this reason, establishing an EDIH with a strong European orientation is of particular benefit to the South Westphalian economy with its high export quota. The economic success of SMEs in South Westphalia is based on the expertise of their employees, which has grown over decades. The EDIH SWF will provide a set of services and infrastructures to support SMEs in how this product-specific expertise of human specialists and executives can be complemented by the adoption and development of in-depth, socio-informatic digitization competencies in the design of human-centered artificial intelligence, employee-based cyber-security as well as socio-technical assistance systems. The EDIH will support SMEs during the transformation process in cooperation with the social partners to maintain innovative strength in the long term.
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