The Handbook Presents Formats & Tools for the Sustainable Digital Transformation in SMEs

As a mega trend of our time, digitalisation is a topic that companies cannot afford to avoid: whether it is a matter of implementing Circular Economy, designing modern working environments or developing completely new business models. At the same time, all these fields of action can be powerful means toward greater social and environmental sustainability. Competitiveness cannot be achieved without a clear commitment to corporate responsibility and the willingness to prepare for the future by taking smart business decisions today. Many companies, especially those in the small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) sector, had to learn such lessons through various crises of the recent years.

This leads to the conclusion: in order to be successful and resilient in the long run, the mega trends of sustainability and digitalisation should be thought together. With the goal of supporting SMEs to onboard and make the most of the twin sustainable-digital transformation,, the first North Rhine-Westphalian (NRW) centre for business and digital responsibility was launched in 2019.

As part of the project, the CSCP, in collaboration with the NRW Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, set in motion an active exchange with NRW-based SMEs to figure out how they could remain competitive and become resilient through digital and sustainable innovation.

In various exchange formats, including workshops, interviews, surveys, and case studies, the team looked for examples of successful companies that are already ahead on the path to the twin transformation. Key material, workshop formats, and information sets from these exchanges have been compiled into a handbook, meant to support SMEs.

The handbook includes deep dives on six action fields identified during the course of the project: Circular Economy and rethinking value creation; digital participation and skills; digital trust; climate, resource, and biodiversity protection; shaping the working world of tomorrow; and making business models fit for the future. The project also developed a profile check to support companies to create an initial idea of their status with respect to the sustainable digital transformation and identify where their biggest potential lies. Finally, the handbook collects various workshop formats that were used within the framework of the project that other companies can replicate.

You can download the handbook (in German) from our library. was a collaborative project between the CSCP, the IHK NRW and the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and it run from 2019 to 2023. The project was funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

For further questions, please contact Alexander Mannweiler.