The cross-sector Wissmark project goes from strength to strength

Small and medium-sized enterprises reap the benefits of knowledge sharing

Putting companies from different sectors of industry in the same room creates plenty of room for new momentum and exchanging experiences. The Infothek Steinbeis Transfer Center in Villingen-Schwenningen has started a benchmark project coined Wissmark to provide a channel for companies keen to think outside the box to showcase their strengths – and learn from the strengths of others.

Entrepreneurs learns many lessons during their career, each shaped by their sector of industry. The lessons can be extremely useful for other companies, as many cross-sector difficulties are impossible to overcome without outside support, or without the treasure trove of experience gained by others. One issue for companies is: how to access such experience.

The Steinbeis Transfer Center teamed up with the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Economic Affairs and embarked on a project to address this issue: Wissmark, a benchmark initiative with backing from the ESF. The project involves several meetings with companies, normally on-site, to map out their key strengths. These are then summarized as a best-practice case study and stored in a database accessible to all participants.

The topics to be looked at are always chosen by the participating companies themselves to make sure that they remain true to entrepreneurial practice. The database allows companies to search for practical solutions to their questions that worked well in other companies.

In parallel to the meetings, the Infothek Steinbeis Transfer Center can (if requested by participants) invite experts to talk about special topics. There have already been seminars on business etiquette and “food for thought” workshops on body language and knowledge management.

One positive side-effect of the project: some of the companies introduced to each other have turned into long-term partners. One example is a successful partnership between three companies from different industries who are currently starting a joint development project, impossible without the others, due to the size of the undertaking.

Wissmark is going down very well and is now in its third successful year. Thomas Holfeld, Technical Director at STEIN Automation describes the benefits of the project as, “Expanding your own horizons, learning new things, hearing how others do it – combining that with the ‘food for thought’ workshops provides valuable insights for the companies.”

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