The digital transformation will continue to accompany us in the coming years. It is a historic turning point in economic history - comparable to the invention of the steam engine or electricity.
Digital, data-driven business models have changed entire industries, such as the music and film industry, the book trade or travel and transport. According to the Council of Economic Experts, when it comes to the data economy, the digital platform is the most dominant business model and cloud computing the most important infrastructure. Whilst in the last 20 years the focus has primarily been on end-customer business, the industrial B2B sector is now increasingly coming into focus. The basis of all digital activities is the availability of data. The following always applies: the larger the data collection, the more precise the statements and the greater the added value.
The infrastructures and technologies for transporting, collecting, sharing and evaluating these growing data volumes are therefore becoming more and more important to North Rhine-Westphalia's economy. This includes, for example, the gigabit network, 4G and 5G mobile communications, data centres as well as cloud services, blockchain technology and a variety of AI-based technologies.
As the data economy evolves, so does the importance of digital sovereignty. Legislative initiatives such as the Digital Markets Act, the Digital Services Act, the Data Governance Act and the Data Act, as well as technological initiatives such as Gaia-X, are therefore particularly important to European economies.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy is running a number of action programmes and grant schemes in order to drive forward the digital transformation in North Rhine-Westphalia:
- The NRW 2.0 Digital Strategy, as amended in 2021, serves as the strategic basis for these activities
- The digital transformation rests on the expansion of the broadband and cell tower network in North Rhine-Westphalia. Going forward, there will also be more computer centres and digital tech parks
- Digital technologies are being promoted through initiatives like KI.NRW, Blockchain.NRW und Gaia.X.NRW
- The Digital Economy Initiative, for example, is awarding the ‘OUT OF THE BOX.NRW’ prize to “, the ‘DWNRW’ hubs and to ‘Scale-up.NRW’ as a boost to the state’s start-up ‘ecosystem’.
- Incumbent businesses can benefit from grant programmes such as the ‘Mittelstand Innovativ & Digital’.
- ‘Open.NRW’ is the state government’s information resource and open data platform.
- In the Digital Pilot Regions, innovative projects carried out jointly with local government and the business community are giving an extra push to the digital transformation.
- The ‘Digi-Sandbox.NRW’ project assists living labs with approval and licensing procedures and makes it easier for knowledge to be exchanged between living labs and regulators.
- The ‘Wirtschafts-Service-Portal.NRW’ (WSP.NRW) resource is a digital one-stop shop for businesses wishing to engage and communicate with state government agencies free of media disruption.
- We are joining the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community and the state governments of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hamburg in the "Registries Modernisation Task Force" with a view to creating the technological infrastructure for implementing the ‘Once-Only’ principle. The once-only principle is an e-government concept that aims to ensure that citizens, institutions, and companies only have to provide certain standard information to the authorities and administrations once. By incorporating data protection regulations and the explicit consent of the users, the public administration is allowed to re-use and exchange the data with each other. The aim is to cut red tape for businesses and individuals.