Hub Members Present Digital Strategies in South Westphalia

How can SMEs successfully cooperate with start-ups? And how can start-ups deal with medium-sized companies as partners and customers? The two “worlds” got togehter at the META-Regalbau in Arnsberg in a workshop hosted by Transferverbund Südwestfalen in cooperation with Digital.Hub Logistics. In an active discussion with representatives from medium-sized businesses and the start-up scene, it quickly became clear that there are more things in common than some people might have assumed.

More than 30 representatives of companies from South Westphalia took part in the event, all members of the ERFA group “Digitisation in Industry” of the Transferverbund Südwestfalen. The Digital Hub was responsible for program planning: With Kerstin Herdtle from META & YOU, Sascha Feldhorst, founder of the MotionMiners start-up, and Johannes Stemmer from the BEUMER Group, three committed members provided insights from the work in the Hub and the cooperation between medium-sized companies and start-ups. The first round of workshops focused on the success factors for such cooperations, including the right timing. Basically, it depends on what added value a cooperation promises – and that would ultimately be decided by the customer to whom the two partners presented their (joint) idea.

Sascha Feldhorst from the MotionMiners explained how medium-sized businesses are perceived as customers by start-ups. A very positive aspect of the cooperation was the fact that decision-making processes are much shorter for medium-sized companies than for large corporations. This also applies to accounting. Especially in the case of MotionMiners, which offer solutions for an automatic analysis of manual processes in production and logistics, it is important that the Works Council is involved and that the joint project is discussed within all parties involved at an early stage. The MotionMiners themselves have made the experience that it is easier for a start-up company to establish in the middle-class if it does not immediately sell a finished product but a service, i.e. consultation.

The workshop was finished by a discussion on “Digitization Strategies for SMEs”, in which Johannes Stemmer from the BEUMER Group shared concrete experiences of the company. Like many companies, BEUMER also asked itself whether a team responsible for digitization processes should work better inside or outside the company. BEUMER initially decided for the in-house solution, but then noticed that the implementation of projects was not quick enough due to the closeness to day-to-day business. Today, in addition to its own R&D team on site at the company’s headquarters, BEUMER also relies on the external BG.evolution team, which is based at the Digital.Hub Logistics in Dortmund and benefits from a creative and dynamic working environment, continuous support and a comprehensive network, while still being close enough to the headquarters. Disruptive ideas are also addressed in the spin-off BEAM GmbH in Berlin, which acts as a Company Builder for the company.

“Fishing for Competence”
The afternoon was moderated by Maria Beck and Christian Prasse from the Digital.Hub Logistics Agency with an entertaining fishbowl discussion. This event format has two groups of participants: an inner circle with around five participants who discuss about a certain topic, and an outer circle with listeners who can also take a seat in the inner circle at any time and ask questions or join the discussion. The participants actively design the topic. The event at META was already the second of its kind for the digital hub: at the end of February this year, the Dortmund company had already offered a corresponding workshop at the Get Connected Festival #2 of the software company AEB in Stuttgart.