The happy about 10 years of the highest cluster is OWL: (from left): – Frank Maier, member of the management board of Lenze SE (deputy chairman of the cluster council is OWL) – Günter Korder, managing director of it’s OWL Clustermanagement GmbH – Prof. dr. Ingeborg Schramm-Wölk, President of the Bielefeld Vocational College (Vice-President of the Clusterboard it’s OWL) – Marianne Thomann-Stahl, President of the Detmold District Government District – Prof. dr. Roman Dumitrescu, managing director of OWL Cluster Management and chairman of the Heinz Nixdorf Institute at the University of Paderborn – dr. Stefan Breit, managing director of Miele (chairman of it’s OWL cluster management) – Herbert Weber, managing director of it’s OWL Cluster Management and OstWestfalenLippe GmbH (photo: OstWestfalenLippe GmbH)
It’s OWL’s leading cluster celebrates its 10th anniversary
In 2012, it was OWL that won the competition for the best clusters of the federal government. In the meantime, a technology network of more than 220 companies and research institutions has pioneered the industry of tomorrow. New technologies and applications have been developed in around 90 projects with a total value of € 220 million – and made available to small and medium-sized businesses. During the jubilee ceremony on June 9 at the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, the responsible persons achieved a positive balance with 240 guests and set a course for the future. The main topics are sustainability, resilience and the provision of a skilled workforce.
“It’s OWL shows what we can achieve at OstWestfalenLippe if we combine our strengths in business and science. Thanks to the specialist knowledge of our companies and research institutions as well as an active network, we have the best conditions to prepare medium-sized companies in OWL for the future. After all, companies are not able to solve many challenges on their own – from digitization, sustainability, supply chains and raw material prices to securing skilled workers, ‘explains Dr. Stefan Breit, Miele Managing Director and Chairman of the Cluster Council.
Since 2012, the leading cluster it’s OWL has completed about 90 projects in which specific solutions for the industry of tomorrow have been and are being developed. The emphasis is on artificial intelligence and machine learning in manufacturing, intelligent product development, new business models and the world of work of the future. In over 350 transfer projects, small and medium-sized companies could use the acquired knowledge to solve specific challenges and take the first steps on the way to Industry 4.0. Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Minister of Economy and Digitization in North Rhine-Westphalia, says: “A leading cluster like OWL is pioneering industrial transformation in North Rhine-Westphalia. The state has been supporting OWL from the very beginning, and since 2018 it has been financing cluster management and various projects with around EUR 53 million. I am convinced that OWL can provide an important boost in the areas of sustainability and resilience to ensure the competitiveness of industry in North Rhine-Westphalia. An important condition for this is close cooperation between industrial regions in our country ”.
From a bold idea to a lighthouse for a modern location
The idea for her OWL was born in 2011 from regional development at OstWestfalenLippe GmbH. Under the leadership of Karl-Heinz Stiller, then Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Wincor Nixdorf AG, the company launched an innovation offensive to strengthen infrastructure for small and medium-sized enterprises and cooperation between business and science. Application for the Leading-Edge Cluster competition under the leadership of prof. dr. Jürgen Gausemeier (Heinz Nixdorf Institute University of Paderborn) was a logical further development – but turned out to be a great effort. In the end, it was necessary to develop a joint strategy for OWL’s industrial location and implementation projects worth 80 million euros, in which the regional economy contributed 40 million euros.
And position yourself well among participants from 24 regions. The efforts were successful: On January 19, 2012, the OWL was selected by the competition jury as the highest cluster of the federal government. What followed was a unique success story. “A lead cluster has become the engine of regional development in OWL and has enabled many new projects and initiatives. At the same time, OWL gained tremendous visibility and significantly contributed to the region’s awareness and image as a high-tech location with attractive jobs in business and science, ”explains Herbert Weber, Managing Director of OWL. and OstWestfalenLippe GmbH. it’s OWL has won numerous awards, such as the industry award at the Hanover Fair. Leading national and international media reported on his OWL – such as The Economist and the Japanese newspaper Asashi Shimbun, one of the largest daily newspapers in the world.
A driving force for innovation and new markets
A leading cluster significantly contributes to increasing the innovativeness and competitiveness of companies. “Companies use project results for new products and services, but also to improve their processes. Through our innovation platform, we share technologies, applications and project experiences with other companies. And in our transfer projects, small and medium-sized companies can transfer results thanks to state funding – summarizes prof. dr hab. Roman Dumitrescu, managing director of his OWL cluster and director of the Heinz Nixdorf Institute.
Verl’s automation specialist Beckhoff was able to apply the project results to the new products. This allows Nobilia to automatically produce 3,800 kitchens a day, for example. The bakery machine manufacturer WP Kemper from Verl has developed a kneading machine in Leading-Edge Cluster together with research institutes, in which the dough hook senses the quality of the dough like the hands of a baker. The baker’s knowledge is integrated into the machine, so that less qualified personnel can also operate the machines. This enables WP Kemper to open up developing markets in Africa, Asia and South America.
Model region for creating persistent value
The technology network is well prepared for the challenges of the future. “Over the past few years, we have built short communication channels, relationships based on trust, proven formats and professional management. Our skills in the areas of artificial intelligence and digitization are an important condition for the industry to successfully master a sustainable transformation. We want to further develop OWL into a model region for creating lasting value, ”says OWL Managing Director Günter Korder.
The universities of the OWL play a decisive role in this. “The universities and technical colleges in OWL are important competence partners in the highest cluster. We have gained extensive knowledge in numerous research projects. At it’s OWL, we want to make this available to the industry together. Through joint research projects, transfer projects, training offers and individual support for companies. The exchange and cooperation with small and medium-sized companies allows us to receive the impulses for our research from practice and to take up the challenges of the industry at an early stage – emphasizes prof. dr hab. Ingeborg Schramm-Wölk, president of the OWL campus and rector of the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences.