OEM&Lieferant Ausgabe 1/2018

92 The automotive industry is currently undergoing a fundamental process of change. Digitisation will not only profoundly change driving, but also the industry and its suppliers. How is the Greater Region facing this chal- lenge? Armin Gehl: The well-known companies took on the challenge quite some time ago and are adapting their offerings with respect to new technologies and require- ments of the OEMs and thus of the mar- ket. However, policy still lags behind enor- mously and only the most populist de- mands get to market! So far, the Greater Region has been characterised by the establishment of production companies. Digitisa- tion demands other competencies. Are these structurally available in the Greater Region? Armin Gehl: Unfortunately, no. The Great- er Region mostly just has Tier1 or Tier2 “extended workbenches”! Thus, the decisions on how a business positions itself are made at the corporate headquarters rather than on site. Aspects such as e-mobility or autono- mous driving call for close cooperation between industry and research institutes. What role do the universities and colleges of the Greater Region play in this? Armin Gehl: The universities and colleges of the Greater Region play a subordinate role in this context, unfortunately, because the existing capacities in this area are available but hardly find any marketing!! Also, there are no cross-structures between the indi- vidual colleges, each works by itself, but it is only possible to get noticed and hold your own with the large research institutes as a community. If one thinks of cities like Luxembourg, Saarbrucken or Nancy, one associates a pleasant way of life with them, but not really a high-tech and digital awakening. Are there some concealed Hidden Cham- pions who are going totally unnoticed? Armin Gehl: As I said before, there is a lack of direct marketing and good presentation of the existing opportunities in this area. There are a few very good institutes that deserve to be better known. Which areas does the future-oriented research of in the Greater Region focus on and are they competitive on an inter- national scale? Armin Gehl: The DFKI comes immediately to mind – the Institute for Artificial Intelligence – this is a co-developer in the field of “auton- omous driving”; or CISPA Cybersecurity - two institutes, which enjoy a very good worldwide reputation and are in demand. Is there sufficient governmental support from the EU or the governments in Lux- embourg, France and Germany as well as the regional governments of Rhine- land-Palatinate and the Saarland, to promote and shape this process of industrial change? Armin Gehl: Absolutely not! Luxembourg and France are very active when it comes to supporting businesses. In Germany, this active phase is missing. As far as the federal states are concerned, Rhineland-Palatinate is in good dialogue with the companies and also provides support. However, the Saarland is well known as the region of short distances, but to put it simply, nothing happens without money. Basically, the companies are reliant on themselves. What role does the automotive clus- ter play in this industrial change pro- cess? Armin Gehl: Since we are active across borders and also actively engage in busi- ness matching between the companies, we promote the continuation of the com- panies’ existing expertise. Also, we con- nect B2B contacts in order to pool the knowledge and capacities. It is also one of our tasks to carry the topic of research and development into companies and thus to end isolation. n Shaping the future in the Greater Region Founded in February 2015, the cross-border association autoregion e.V. is an autonomously active, complementary body to the existing automotive networks of the greater region of Luxembourg, Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate and the French region of Grand Est. autoregion e.V. is supported by companies, associations, research institutes and political institutions. OEM & Supplier spoke with Armin Gehl, Managing Director of autoregion e.V. on the question of the extent to which the Greater Region is prepared for the technological challenges in the automotive and supplier industry. autoregion e.V. Image: © autoregion e.V. autoregion e.V. www.autoregion.eu Websites Termine www.autoregion.eu/de/termine Ansprechpartner www.autoregion.eu/de/ ansprechpartner Armin Gehl