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Digital innovation for small and medium-sized businesses

Practice-driven diploma course for SME managers at IMC Krems

The unprecedented circumstances we are currently going through have brought about a shift in virtually every social aspect of our lives. The situation triggered by Covid-19 and the related essential measures aimed at halting the spread of the virus have clearly highlighted some of the key challenges and opportunities associated with digitalisation. Implemented with the joint support of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the federal provinces of Lower Austria and Burgenland, the Digital  Innovation Hub East  (DIHOST) project offers a comprehensive range of services aimed at boosting the capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in eastern Austria with regard to adopting digital innovations, and the speed with which they can make the transformation happen. As part of the DIHOST project, IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems developed a diploma course aimed specifically at SMEs. 

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The Digital Innovation Hub East (DIHOST) project offers a comprehensive range of services aimed at boosting the capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in eastern Austria. As part of the DIHOST project, IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems developed a diploma course aimed specifically at SMEs.

Digital SME management

Spread across ten workshops held between November 2020 and February 2021, managers of small and medium businesses were given the skills and tools required to bring about digital transformation in their own companies. After completing the three-month DigitaLeaders course, the participants had their own personalised digitalisation toolboxes that put them in a position to make effective decisions geared towards promoting their companies’ growth and transformation. “We offered this diploma course as a means to support small and medium-sized enterprises by introducing managers to key digital technologies and innovation techniques and enabling them to put these approaches into practice, with a view to achieving specific objectives,” comments Roger Hage, Director of the Digital Business Innovation and Transformation degree programme at IMC Krems. The course originated from the DIHOST project and was funded by the FFG and ecoplus. 

Pilot programme completed

The pilot version of the course was successfully concluded on 9 February, and was aimed at finding a suitable format and developing the required contents in consultation with the participants, in the shape of an agile co-creation task. “It was a highly interactive course with a strong practical element, and I learned about a whole range of new tools. Now I’m thinking about applying to Austrian Standards for personal certification as a P53 Digital Officer,” explains Jana Voglauer, Managing Director of Logibuch.at in Wieselburg and a participant in the pilot course. 

Custom learning

The innovative teaching and learning methods used on the course place a strong emphasis on day-to-day practice. Specialists from IMC Krems’ Institute of Digitalisation, the network at the Lower Austrian State Government’s Haus der Digitalisierung and the Digital Innovation Hub East are also on hand to share their expertise. “Our goal is to enable Lower Austrian SMEs to develop appropriate skills and take the first steps on their path to digitalisation. Companies that can respond quickly to the growing demand for digital services and develop innovative solutions are better placed to get to grips with the current situation,” Prof. Gerhard Kormann-Hainzl, project manager at IMC Krems, points out.

Regional Software Solutions

The project also gave rise to the recently unveiled Regional Software Solutions platform. This is intended to enable software producers in the region to reach a wider audience as an alternative to the higher-profile big players. One of these Lower Austrian software solutions comes from Klosterneuburg-based warrify, which was set up by IMC Krems graduates. warrify delivers digital copies of retailers’ bills direct to customers’ smartphones.

About the project

The Digital Innovation Hub East is one of three projects funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs under the Digital Innovation Hubs programme. ecoplus, the Lower Austrian business council, submitted the funding application for the DIHOST project, which also involves the provinces of Lower Austria and Burgenland, as well as the economic chambers of Vienna, Lower Austria, Burgenland and Upper Austria. The focus topics are 3D printing, blockchain and IT security, the internet of things, sensor technology and connectivity, and the project is harnessing the expertise of St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems, Fotec, the Austrian Blockchain Center (ABC) and Forschung Burgenland, the R&D subsidiary of the University of Applied Sciences Burgenland .


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