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Supporting SMEs to Build Resilient Businesses Through Sustainability And Digitalisation

How can small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) strengthen their resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic and exercise responsible leadership after the crisis? In addition, how can SMEs successfully adapt sustainability as part of their digital responsibility strategy? The new centre that goes by the name of focused on answering these questions by encouraging SMEs to introduce a long-term concept on economic, ecological, digital and social issues and to develop innovative products, services and business models. The centre also served as an important component in the implementation of the Strategy for Digital Transformation in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). was a collaboration between the CSCP and its networking partners, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce North Rhine-Westphalia and Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf. The centre linked partners from fields such business, science, start-ups scene, civil society as well as chambers and associations. It aimed to inform and support them to jointly develop solutions for entrepreneurial challenges in the age of digitalisation and sustainability. The focus was on the purpose of digitalisation, including fields of action such as corporate culture, circular economy, digital leadership, responsibility in the supply chain as well as aspects of social entrepreneurship. During the course of the project, peaked into the challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence, asked questions about ethical boundaries of digital optimisation and looked into concrete examples of SMEs in NRW that have already found ways to combine digital advancements with proactive steps towards a more sustainable business – be it with regard to climate neutrality, product innovation or employee engagement.

The Minister for Economy and Digitalisation of NRW, Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart stated: “We are consistently continuing along the path that we have embarked on with the topic of responsible corporate management in digital times. Digitalisation must be at the service of the people. I am pleased that we are now bundling various aspects of digitalisation in connection with economic responsibility in a state-wide centre, offering companies a contact point in North Rhine-Westphalia and thus assuming a genuine pioneering role.’’

In order to serve its purpose of delivering orientation to SMEs in the complex fields of sustainability and digitalisation, provided insights through offering workshops, co-working with interesting organisations in NRW as well as a newly developed Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), that will be hosted by the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.

The project was funded by the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Digitisation, Innovation and Energy of North Rhine Westphalia via the EFRE Fund. – Sustainably Competitive was launched in July 2020.