Back Highlights: Staying Sustainable in Times of Crisis Through Digitalisation

In October 2022, the North-Rhein Westphalian (NRW) state-wide Centre for Business and Digital Responsibility, invited entrepreneurs and representatives from business, politics and civil society to the Design Offices Düsseldorf to discuss how sustainable digitalisation can enable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in NRW to position themselves for the future, even in times of crisis.

Since its launch in 2020, the project has linked business, science, and civil society actors as well as start-ups, chambers of commerce and business associations. Through numerous activities and different formats, the project informed and supported them to jointly develop solutions for entrepreneurial challenges in the age of digitalisation and sustainability. Focusing on fields of action such as corporate culture, Circular Economy, digital leadership, or responsibility in the supply chain, opened up new ways of leveraging digitalisation to achieve more sustainability. For example, has served as a platform for innovative companies and advisory organisations, such as Effizienz-Agentur NRW and NRW.BANK, which promote investments in innovative digital and sustainable solutions.

During the event, over 60 participants took part in the creative format “The Resilience Workshop”, getting insights into the work of successful companies such as Vytal, a provider of reusable systems or Wildling Shoes, a pioneer in sustainable work culture. The team of Gut Einern in Wuppertal, led by Jörg Heynkes, provided a glimpse into an entrepreneurial future that enables sustainable living and working with the help of digital technologies. The aim of the format was to stimulate discussions on how digital technologies can be used in support of social and environmental efforts.

The team presented an excerpt of a booklet titled “Workbook for the double transformation of medium-sized businesses in NRW”, which will be published soon. The head of CSCP’s Sustainable Business and Entrepreneurship Team, Patrick Bottermann noted: “With the booklet, we want to offer companies the opportunity to take action quickly and independently, without having to generate prior knowledge book by book. Literally, all SMEs we have collaborated with within the scope of this project want to work on the topics of sustainability and digitalisation, preferably in a way that creates synergies. But there is a great need for implementation-oriented and practical support. That’s what we want to address with the booklet.”

The NRW Minister for Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy, Mona Neubaur, who attended the event, emphasised: “The mega trends challenge companies to be more self-motivated. It is a matter of shaping change and finding convincing answers to the requirements of a modern, digital, sustainable and competitive economy with the respective products and processes. This requires considerable efforts, which should not be taken alone, but through cooperation and supported knowledge transfer.”

The was carried out by the CSCP in collaboration with the NRW Chamber of Commerce (IHK NRW) and the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU).

For further questions, please contact Patrick Bottermann.

Photo by © Roberto Pfeil.