Many industrial nations are pushing for the implementation of artificial intelligence in the economy – and they outdo themselves with funding programs. Germany is in the lead in terms of GDP of industrial production in all statistics, but not in government support for industrial AI applications. Against this background, the Federal Ministry of Research had invited to a discussion “AI for SMEs in the industry”. And we were there.
On the occasion of the VDMA, our founder and Managing Director Joern Steinbeck was invited to Berlin on 22.10.2019 to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In addition to representatives of the major industrial associations VDMA (mechanical and plant engineering) and ZVEI (electrical engineering and electronics) representatives of 7 SMEs were invited – including the smallest company oee.ai.
The discussion was led by Federal Minister Anja Karliczek. The focus was on the question of which hurdles exist for SMEs in the use of artificial intelligence, so that the Federal Ministry can provide assistance in dismantling.
In essence, three fields of action were discussed:
- Cultural hurdles: The openness towards AI technology in small and medium-sized enterprises is assessed as capable of being upgraded – both within the company itself and in terms of data exchange across company boundaries.
- Technical hurdles: In addition to the lack of AI know-how in the companies, best-practice ideas and successful use cases have not yet become so widespread that they will be taken up by a large number of companies. It simply means understanding what the technology can do and what specific problem it is capable of solving.
- Data security: Because many AI technologies are cloud-based, inadequate data security is considered a problem area for SMEs. Justified or not – this is how industry representatives reflect the perception of managers.
The Federal Ministry referred in several places to the project GAIA X, which addressed a part of the challenges for SMBs.
We drove home with a very good impression: The Federal Government is proactively taking care of the challenges of SMEs, even if SMEs themselves are not yet fully aware of these issues. The industry associations competently represent the interests of their members. And last but not least: A heterogeneous round of industry and politics discusses focused and on an equal footing industrial policy issues.
A report on the expert discussion can be found on the Ministry’s website at this link.
Our special thanks go in particular to the VDMA, who arranged our participation in the event.