AI for SMEs – Future Center for AI and Digital Transformation (RZzKI) for the Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate Region

What is the potential of AI technologies for small and medium-sized enterprises? Can AI be used practically and profitably in manual production processes? Is the digital transformation of administrative processes worthwhile if tied to investment in IT infrastructure? Medium-sized companies have many questions about scalability, costs, and, quite frankly, the possible uses of artificial intelligence in their operations. The Regional Future Center for AI and Digital Transformation (RZzKI) for Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate supports SMEs with digital transformation issues in both federal states.

RZzKI has developed an integrated approach to implementing the digital transformation in small and medium-sized enterprises. The major focus is on the design and handling of human-centered AI systems. A regional, multi-disciplinary consortium is entrusted with the implementation and includes: The Saarland Chamber of Labor's Advisory Office for Socially Compatible Technology Design (AK/BEST), German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Festo Learning Center (FLZ), Institute for Technology and Labor (ITA), TBS Rheinland-Pfalz (TBS), the SmartFactory KL (SF) Technologie Initiative, and the Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technology (ZeMA). The lead partner is the Association for Social Business Consulting (GSUB), Berlin. The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS) sponsors RZzKI.

The topmost aim of the program is to support companies, especially SMEs, through the participatory and co-creative introduction of digital technologies and AI-based systems together with the employees and with people in mind. In essence, the challenge consists of making the knowledge of how AI-based systems work available to the company for a specific purpose and being in position to plan the implementation and application processes in a social partnership or partner-oriented manner as well as to impart the necessary skills. Such support is to be achieved with the development of specific consulting, teaching, and learning points on the basis of an upstream analysis of regional and industry-specific requirements, offers, and "Good Practices", especially with regard to human-centric AI systems.

"RZzKI Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate fills an important void with its efforts to advance the digital transformation of SMEs and the use of AI systems by focusing on the needs of employees and thereby strengthening the company," said Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger, DFKI-CEO and head of Cognitive Assistants research.

For SMEs in these two federal states, RZzKI offers an entry-level consultation that can be expanded with innovative follow-on teaching and learning modules on diverse aspects of the digital transformation for various target groups like managers, skilled labor, and employee representatives. Additionally, advanced and in-depth consulting options are also available. The range of topics runs from introduction and use of AI in the SME environment to supporting specific evaluations. This approach promotes self-learning and design competence within the companies in the field of digital technologies, in particular, AI.

DFKI as Content Partner
DFKI has many years of experience as a research partner in industrial projects and knows the needs and requirements of the companies and can prepare and communicate theoretical knowledge about artificial intelligence in an application-oriented manner. The Cognitive Assistants department and the Smart Data & Knowledge Services department contribute their expertise in the area of knowledge transfer, networking, and in the design and content development of an "Introduction to AI" training module for SMEs. Among the core topics that can be particularly useful for SMEs are personalized, multimodal human-computer interaction and the exploitation of valuable information from big data sources. Any change in technology such as the introduction of AI-based systems can only be effective when the employees are involved. The Cognitive Assistants department at DFKI has already designed a human-centric support system for industrial manufacturing in the SmartF-IT project that looks at participatory digitalization.
DFKI's Smart Service Engineering section is also involved at the Future Center for Human-Centric Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing (ZuKIPro), which supports SMEs in Hessen in the participatory introduction and application of AI.

The project is currently looking for companies in which to evaluate the concept of introducing AI and the digital transformation. As an incentive, the initial consultation and the first five consultant days are offered free of charge. If your company is interested, please contact:


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Contact / Consortium managers RZzKI

Dr. Frederic Raber
Tel.: +49 681 85775 5008

Dr. Anselm Blocher
Tel.: +49 681 85775 5262


Press contact:

Heike Leonhard, M.A.

Unternehmenskommunikation, DFKI Saarbrücken

German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz