Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Ländliche Regionen

Digitization in the green

Project timeline: Nov. 2022 – Oct. 2025

Funding: 5.5 million euros from the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)

Partners: 4

Project coordinator: University of Siegen

Tasks of FIT: Supports the project with expertise in artificial intelligence and sustainability, particularly in data collection, data analysis, and data visualization.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face three key challenges: Climate change, digitization, and industrial structural change. Especially in rural regions, infrastructure, demographics, and medical care make digitization difficult for local companies. To counteract this, the Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Ländliche Regionen (Center for SME in rural regions) addresses these problems and introduces aimed digital and sustainable solutions.

Digital scouts in the company

SMEs in rural regions form an essential core of the German economy. Not only are the majority of small and medium-sized enterprises located in rural areas and consisting of crafts, industry, and services, but these are also the very rural enterprises that generate almost half of Germany's gross national product. Thus, SMEs in rural regions require tailored support for digitization that also considers the issues of the environment and sustainability.

The Center supports green transformation through a broad range of qualifications, networking, and dialog services and is characterized by a pronounced sustainability orientation. The goal is to position enterprises digitally for the future in the long term by empowering employees to implement and drive digitization in their own companies. To this end, the center for rural regions offers technical demonstrators, support from AI trainers, and workshops to illustrate digitization, make digitization understandable, and provide assistance with practical projects.

SMEs in rural regions are informed about possible uses and applications of AI. In addition, SMEs will gain insights into the data economy, the correct handling of data protection, and practical assistance in implementing a green transformation and new digital learning and working environments. Services are primarily aimed at industrial companies, craft businesses, medicine, and the healthcare and forestry industries.

Digitally networked: The partners in the Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Ländliche Regionen at a glance

The Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Ländliche Regionen is part of the Mittelstand-Digital network of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). Together with four partners, Fraunhofer FIT is strengthening the competence of small and medium-sized enterprises in rural areas in Germany on their way to becoming digitized companies in the project. In addition to Fraunhofer FIT, the consortium consists of Ruhr University Bochum, South Westphalia University of Applied Sciences, The German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF), and the University of Siegen.

Here you can find more information about the project: Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Ländliche Regionen (