The industrial landscape of the Lake Constance region is characterised by a large number of highly specialised technology companies, mostly SMEs, which are often among the world's leading companies in their respective market segments. The dynamics of their globally networked markets require them to efficiently optimize their core business (exploitation) and, at the same time, to implement radical, sustainable innovations (exploration). Only if this succeeds can the competitiveness of these companies be maintained in the long term. The already existing pressure to innovate (exploration) is further intensified by the dynamics of digitalization: companies are faced with the challenge of successfully mastering the necessary digital transformation. If this hurdle is not successfully overcome, "there is a threat of a digital divide between SMEs and large companies". Accordingly, it is particularly important to enable SMEs to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitisation and thus to position themselves successfully in the market in the long term. Digital innovations increasingly lead to so-called disruptive changes - paradigms of a market change fundamentally and lead to a reorganization of the market.
Digitisation affects all industries and requires companies to develop fundamentally new skills and knowledge, far removed from their traditional core activities. The challenge here is that not only the technology is changing, but also the competences (at the organisational and employee level), the working methods (agile methods, lean startup), the customer behaviour (e.g. ordering taxis via the smartphone) and the corresponding business models (e.g. product-asa-service). The simultaneity of these changes leads to a completely new radicality and uncertainty and therefore to an overtaxing of the companies. This is particularly true for SMEs, which have fewer resources and skills than large companies.
The derivation of concrete recommendations for action and design proposals should enable companies to implement digital innovations with so-called Digital Innovation Teams. The Digital Innovation Teams method provides SMEs with a tool for acquiring external digital know-how and gradually building it up themselves through semi-autonomous innovation teams. Through the continuous integration of practical partners, the results are to be transferred to industry during and after the project period. Constant communication, but also transfer activities such as road shows and workshops ensure that the results are available to all SMEs in the Lake Constance region in the long term. In the first stage, the SMEs are to use the competences of the IBH universities through cooperative workshops in order to work out the topic of digitisation for their own business context. In a second step, this knowledge and the associated competences are to be built up within the company itself.