The basis for the international competitiveness of mechanical engineering is innovative technologies, processes and services that incorporate the latest findings from science and research. Worldwide, it is particularly issues such as the efficient use of resources and energy that keep the wheels of innovation turning. Customers are looking for solutions that enable them to produce efficiently, flexibly and sustainably on the one hand, and to reduce their production costs on the other. Many of the companies in North Rhine-Westphalia already offer innovative technologies with regard to energy and resource efficiency that contribute to improving the quality of life as well as to substantially reducing CO2 along the entire value chain.
The high pressure to innovate makes mechanical engineering a research-intensive industry. Many companies are unable to handle the complexity of widely networked research and development entirely on their own. Cooperation with partner companies, research institutes and universities is an important way for them to expand their own capabilities. All players benefit from a research and university landscape that is both strong in technology and close to industry.
NRW’s higher education landscape – a resource of knowledge and expertise
When mechanical engineering companies in NRW are looking for suitable partners for a research project, they don’t have to look far. North Rhine-Westphalia’s higher education landscape is diverse and rich; it includes 30 universities under public law and 26 recognized private universities, seven state colleges of art and music, and five administrative colleges that are not subject to ministry supervision.
NRW has the densest higher education landscape in Europe: in addition to around 67 universities and colleges, more than 50 non-university research institutions are located here – including numerous Max Planck Institutes, institutes of the Fraunhofer Society and Leibniz institutions as well as research centers of the Helmholtz Association and Johannes Rau Research Institutes. In addition, there are around 100 research institutes located at universities.
ProduktionNRW as a scout for company, process and product innovations
Innovations are a decisive factor for the top position of the sector and the entire industry in NRW. Networking within and outside traditional industry definitions – nationally and internationally – plays a significant role here and is an important expansion of the company’s own opportunities.
The cluster for mechanical engineering and production technology, ProduktionNRW, organized by VDMA NRW, effectively drives product, process and business model innovations. It helps the industry to increase knowledge transfer between industry and science to become more competitive. The activities of ProduktionNRW are focused on the following two key themes and drive transformation, innovative strength, performance, but also the resilience of the industry in relation to existing and future challenges even further:
- Transformation to a climate-neutral, energy- and resource-efficient economy both in relation to the own sector and to the entire industry.
- Crisis management and further development of the industry: Supporting SMEs in particular in coping with crises and their consequences and thus maintaining and increasing the industry’s competitiveness.
ProduktionNRW initiates research projects and cooperations for this purpose and provides information on funding opportunities at state, federal and EU level. The many ProduktionNRW events on a wide range of topics relevant to the industry and its future provide participants with impetus. In addition, they show application examples as well as recommendations for action and bring relevant partners together. The topics covered by ProduktionNRW are as diverse as the industry itself: industrial transformation, digitization and Industrie 4.0, innovation and technology transfer, new technologies and manufacturing techniques, research funding from the state, federal and EU governments, resource and energy efficiency, and topics from the world of work.