BMWi Innovation Competition: eco-Supported AI Consortium Receives Funding Approval

  • AI consortium supported by the eco Association put forward a proposal on Artificial Intelligence and Service in the Age of Industry 4.0
  • “Service Master” project selected for the AI Innovation Competition of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to ensure the competitiveness of German SMEs in the long term. eco – Association of the Internet Industry is a network partner of a consortium which has developed a project proposal on how to best use AI to do so. The project has now been recommended for funding based on the positive reviews of the judges of the innovation competition “Artificial Intelligence as a Driver for Economically-Relevant Ecosystems” of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

The “Service Master” project was designed in just one month by the consortium led by USU Software AG, together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the eco Association, and the Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin. The aim is to design and develop an AI platform for German SMEs, which will make the growing complexity of the provision of services within the build-own-transfer framework more manageable, for example in the field of Machine-as-a-Service. This way, companies with limited staff resources can use the support of service bots to offer cost-efficient and competitive services and become market leaders in their field.

“Digitized expertise makes it possible to train more partners in the ecosystem – even for high-quality services,” says Henrik Oppermann, Business Unit Manager of USU Software AG in Karlsruhe, Germany. Service Master focuses on three important areas for the industry:

  • The automatic collection of the vital statistics of the machine before, during, and after maintenance
  • A fleet-wide platform which interconnects technicians
  • AI-based chat bots which read and understand the available reports on routine tasks and processes in an automated manner, and which technicians can consult as a complementary source of information.

As part of the current competition phase, the next step is to design an ecosystem for maintenance knowledge with corporations and SMEs, to function as a collaborative platform. A key aspect of the project is the development of lucrative data products and the legal and technical means to ensure data protection and to apply security measures.

“Whether or not digital transformation succeeds is critical for the strategic competitiveness of German SMEs. The Innovation Competition of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) could make a significant contribution to a successful transformation process,” adds Andreas Weiss, Director of Digital Business Models at the eco Association. He is particularly pleased by the numerous partners who have pledged their support for the project proposal: “We have powerful and wide-reaching network partners with the German AI Association, the VOICE Federation of IT Users, the ENX Association of the European automotive industry, and research institutions like the FZI Research Center for Information Technology and Fraunhofer ICT Group, as well as SME initiatives such as the Initiative Digital and the Competence Network Trusted Cloud.” In addition, a number of industrial enterprises and IT service providers have pledged their expertise.

The consortium will conduct a series of workshops and information sessions from April to September 2019. If interested, just write to

BMWi Innovation Competition: eco-Supported AI Consortium Receives Funding Approval