We were delighted to have Dr. Christian Kellermann-Langhagen from the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (ZVEI) join us and hold the keynote speech. The ZVEI is one of the most important industrial associations in Germany with around 150 own employees and about 5.000 employees from their 1.600 member companies in an honorary capacity. It represents the interests of a high-tech sector with a very wide and extremely dynamic product portfolio.
Before the seminar I had the opportunity to join Dr. Kellermann-Langhagen in a tour of the fair. He was impressed with the broad spectrum of Finnish industry. He also made a note of the large number of innovative companies and products, e.g. 3D printing. On the other hand, however – and contrary to the Hanover Industry Fair in April this year – we found absolutely no reference at the booths to Industry 4.0. Also very noticeable were the strong associations to well-known German companies whose signs could be seen everywhere.
My presentation (see link below) was an invitation to Finnish companies to cooperate with German SMEs or research institutes through Tekes or EU programs. Opportunities for the digitalisation business and smart technology on the German market are huge and the field for new innovative players is still open. The appeal of cooperation between Finnish and German companies lies in the fact that both countries have a similar understanding of values such as reliability, quality and engineering.
Dr. Kellermann-Langhagen's presentation described the history of Industry 4.0 together with the main clusters and key player in the German ecosystem. Interestingly, Dr. Kellermann-Langhagen mentioned that he was already familiar with Tekes as an organisation and highlighted it as a very positive example of funding and leading innovation in his presentations.
Last but not least, he introduced the different programs available in Germany and, more importantly, how he believed the ZVEI and Tekes can cooperate to help SMEs in both countries come together: The ZVEI can contact member enterprises to present research ideas and has dedicated groups conducting joint research with a focus on SMEs.