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Digital Twins for European SMEs

Dutch Regional Minister Martijn van Gruijthuijsen visits Werk150

By Agnieszka Grzesiak and Sven Rottner

Since January 2021, ESB Business School at Reutlingen University has been working together with the Brainport Industries Campus in Eindhoven on the project “Artificial Intelligence for Digital Twins“ (AI4DT). ESB Business School’s Werk150 is the first German-Dutch field lab for cross-border networking between research institutions and companies. Six months after the start, a delegation of the Dutch Regional Minister of the province of Noord-Brabant, Martijn van Gruijthuijsen, visited Werk150.

A digital twin connects the real and the virtual world. As a virtual image, it is used to optimise products, processes and machines or to analyse the strain on working people. The aim of the AI4DT project is to transfer knowledge from field of digital twin to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Professor Dr Daniel Palm, project manager on the ESB Business School side, emphasises: “Technologies such as artificial intelligence and digital twin are crucial both at company and supply chain level. Ultimately, it’s about the competitiveness of the entire chain from a global perspective.”

Martijn van Gruijthuijsen, Regional Minister of the province of Noord-Brabant, and Paul Ymkers, Consul General of the Netherlands in Munich, were able to see for themselves the practical benefits of digital twins at Werk150. The delegation was accompanied by representatives of the provincial government of Noord-Brabant and the Ministry of Economic affairs, Employment and Tourism of Baden-Württemberg, who support the project. 

The Dutch Regional Minister is certain: “We have to push the application of new technologies in companies in Europe – this will ultimately determine their international competitiveness.”

Interest in the digital twin and the need for information on the part of companies are enormous – in the first six months of the project the partner consortium of Steinbeis, Smart Industry NL, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Engineering and Automation,  Brainport Industries and Reutlingen University held over 65 events with more than 500 participants via the cooperation platform The aim of these events was to inform small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in particular, to jointly identify opportunities, to find partners and experts as well as funding opportunities at regional, national and European level in order to realise digitisation potential through digital twins and artificial intelligence. 

Professor Dr Palm is confident about the future of the project: “We are currently working on setting up an AI4DT application center that will promote implementation projects among SMEs. They often need just a little nudge for them to enter into the topic.”