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Digital transformation in Duisburg through a new centre for applied artificial intelligence »ZaKI.D«

5-StandorteProgramm /

Artificial intelligence is a comprehensive and changing technology that is already transforming our working and private worlds. This is accompanied by changes in tasks, but above all new jobs are emerging that require new skills. In order to actively help shape this change, the City of Duisburg has proposed the »Zentrum für angewandte Künstliche Intelligenz Duisburg (ZaKI.D)«for funding in the 5-StandorteProgramm. This programme strengthens municipalities that are particularly affected by the coal phase-out and want to implement forward-looking projects for structural change.

Duisburg has received 18 million euros in funding for a new AI centre

Following the regional seal of approval from the Structural Strengthening Council, the corresponding funding decisions totalling 18 million euros were handed over today by Paul Höller, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action of North Rhine-Westphalia, to Michael Rüscher, Head of Economic Affairs, and the project team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS, the University of Duisburg-Essen and the company KROHNE. The project is being funded with around 17 million euros from the federal STARK programme (‘Stärkung der Transformationsdynamik und Aufbruch in den Revieren und an den Kohlekraftwerkstandorten’). The state government is supplementing the funding with around 800,000 euros.

© Tanja Pickartz, Stadt Duisburg
State Secretary Paul Frederik Höller hands over the funding certificate to Wolfgang Gröting, Head of Innovation Centre and Sales.

North-Rhine Westphalia Economic Affairs Minister Mona Neubaur: »North Rhine-Westphalia has long been leading the way in artificial intelligence - research and application are embedded in an ever-growing ecosystem that is also attracting international attention. We want to fully utilise the power of AI for the digital and climate-neutral transformation of our economy. In Duisburg, the Centre for Applied Artificial Intelligence will support companies in the region in the future to promote the use of AI for products and processes. In addition, a planned AI innovation incubator will be a contact point for start-ups and provide significant support for local start-up activities. This will create new jobs in the region and strengthen North Rhine-Westphalia as an attractive and competitive location in the long term.«


The centre focuses on a relatively new area of artificial intelligence that is particularly important for Europe, focusing on implementation on devices with extremely limited resources, such as sensors or other smart devices, in order to avoid data protection problems and to be able to offer new services directly with the product or in a machine. The intelligence is located in the device itself. ZaKI.D aims to help small and medium-sized companies in the region to integrate artificial intelligence into their operations and products themselves. 

»This is the first project from the 5-StandorteProgramm to be launched in Duisburg,« says Lord Mayor Sören Link. »With the AI centre, we are actively shaping structural change and creating scope for development for companies.« At ZaKI.D, AI solutions would be developed with companies and the solutions would not be shared in a cloud, but would remain in the products of our companies. »This directly strengthens Duisburg's competitiveness. If the local economy accepts the offer, new and very attractive jobs can be created in our city as a result,« adds Michael Rüscher.


»We are delighted that we can now actually get started with ZaKI.D and put our ideas into practice,« says Prof Anton Grabmaier, Director of the Fraunhofer IMS. Dr Attila Bilgic, CEO of the KROHNE Group, adds: »One particularly fascinating aspect is the holistic approach, which is characterised by the direct support of the regional economy, the development of targeted qualification measures and the positioning of ZaKI.D as an AI innovation incubator for start-ups.« »The dovetailing of application-oriented qualification measures with university programmes enables a broad coverage of AI knowledge access and thus an excellent basis for an even more successful industry in Duisburg,« concludes Torben Weis, Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Mayor Sören Link and Head of Economic Affairs Michael Rüscher welcome the start of the project and the creation of around 30 project-related and up to 500 external qualified jobs: »This is a good and important signal for Duisburg as a business location.’




You can find more information on the website of the 5-StandortProgramm: ZaKI.D - Zentrum für angewandte Künstliche Intelligenz Duisburg


Author Susanne Stölting, Stadt Duisburg, translated by Fraunhofer IMS


Fraunhofer IMS

Smart Sensor Systems for a safe, secure, and sustainable future: In numerous state-of-the-art research laboratories, Fraunhofer IMS works with more than 250 talented scientific employees and students on innovative microelectronic solutions. As a trusted research and development partner for industry, the institutes’ goal is to develop customized sensor systems for your specific needs in the areas of biomedical sensors, optical systems, open source semiconductors, embedded AI, technology services, and even quantum technology. The teams in the four business units – Health, Industry, Mobility, and Space and Security – are committed to implementing outstanding and versatile microelectronics that can be utilized across all your projects. For example, these solutions feature high integration capability, enormous energy efficiency and reliable functionality even under harsh conditions.