"Artificial Intelligence” innovation contest

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„Die KI-Plattform für den deutschen Mittelstand"

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Small and medium-sized companies are Germany’s vital innovative, technological and economic engine. More than 99% of all companies in Germany are small and medium-sized companies. They provide about 60% of all German jobs and generate about 55% of Germany’s net value added.1German’s small and medium-sized companies generate an annual sales volume of about 4500 bn EUR.2 However, the small and medium-sized companies face the immense challenge of digitalization and digital transformation, and thus a) the optimization of internal value-added processes, b) new ways for contacting and activating customers, and c) the creation of new data/AI-driven products and services.3 Due to this, small and medium-sized companies in the digital index only reach an average of 5 out of 100 points, whereas big companies reach 24 points.4 Digital trade (B2B and B2C) is a major problem for them. Depending on the study considered, 34 only 4-10% of the sales are generated via electronic distribution channels, mainly via standardized interfaces and software which only big companies can afford. The major obstacles for digital trade are, for example, the human factor; major obstacles for the usage of AI software, high integration costs and the shortage of skilled staff.


The technological idea of Cognitive Computing can effectively help addressing these and other problems and retaining the competitiveness of small and medium-sized companies in the long run. This collective term contains platforms and frameworks that combine machine learning, reasoning, language and text processing, visual object recognition as well as dialog and voice control. Based on this, a technology concept and a platform, including an ecosystem called Cognitive Commerce (CoCo), is to be designed and developed, the core of which

  1. is the generalization and abstraction of AI on the application level, the
  2. application of state-of-the-art AI for the reduction of repetitive tasks, the automation of processes and easy access to context-specific information.

For small and medium-sized companies (and also for big companies), due to simple configuration and installation, this would make it easier to reuse so-called knowledge clusters. Then, the user does not have to know much about AI, but profits from the constant further development of Cognitive Computing by means of incremental enhancements and trainings. In this context, each knowledge cluster represents a decided business use case. However, these can also be easily linked.


The following dates have currently been fixed

In case of an award


Currently, during the contest phase, the consortium consists of 3 allied partners and 7 associated partners.
During the implementation phase, the consortium will be expanded.

Consortium manager

AI4BD Deutschland GmbH
Gerwigstraße 6
78120 Furtwangen

Dr. Martin Voigt

Allied partner

oxaion gmbh
Pforzheimer Str. 128
76275 Ettlingen

Marcel Schober

Allied partner

University of Paderborn
AG Data Science
Warburgerstraße 100
33098 Paderborn

Prof. Dr. Axel Ngonga
Head of AG Data Science

Furthermore, the following allied partners take part in the implementation phase

Furthermore, the following associated partners take part

  1. Small and medium-sized companies guarantee stability and progress
  2. KfW Research, “E-Commerce im Mittelstand überschreitet 200 Mrd. EUR”, Nr. 160, 20.04.2018
  3. Gnamm, Kalmbach, Schertler: Von der Vision zur Transformation: Digitalisierung ist Chefsache. Bain & Company, 2018
  4. www.iwconsult.de - Digitalisierung von KMU