The Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer digitally handed over the funding decision on the large-scale »Silicon Economy Logistics Ecosystem (SELE)« project for about 25 million Euro to Fraunhofer IML during the Future Congress Logistics – 38. Dortmund talks., With the largest research project in ten years, Fraunhofer IML is to help a decentral and open platform economy achieve a breakthrough in Germany and Europe as an alternative to Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley was yesterday: with the Silicon Economy, Fraunhofer IML wants to create an alternative to monopolistic platforms like Amazon, Uber or Alibaba. Such a platform economy is the business concept of the future – the only way to control increasingly complex supply chains. That is why Fraunhofer IML and its project partners will make all the results of the project available as open source software by means of a development and operation platform for the free use of all companies.

New era of logistics

»In the past, we automated machines, in the Silicon Economy we automate processes. The entire digitization of both process and supply chains using artificial intelligence will herald a new era in logistics. It feels like 30 years ago when the internet itself was developed. Business models in logistics will fundamentally change, new players and job models will arise. The success story of the future Silicon Economy giants begins now. In Dortmund and at Fraunhofer IML, we have gathered the know-how and the technologies to make substantial parts of this new world a reality«, emphasizes Prof. Michael ten Hompel, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IML.

Push for digitization

»We are experiencing a new era in logistics: artificial intelligence helps to reorganize the flow of goods, to make transports more efficient and to reduce emissions. To guarantee that the German logistics industry stays at the forefront in the world, it is resolutely pushing forward with its digitization. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) supports this with the Silicon Economy project as part of our »Logistik 2030« innovation program, a true push for digitization«, underlines Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

The work in the project pursues two parallel goals: on the one hand, the development of the Silicon Economy infrastructure and the necessary basis components, on the other hand, the set-up of a platform including a user community. Specifically, an open source infrastructure and both hardware and software components are to be developed that will be publicly available in a kind of digital library. This is to enable companies of any size to digitize and automate all business processes along a supply chain.

To achieve that, the scientists involved work in so-called development projects on specific logistics problems. Companies will implement selected technical components of these projects during ongoing operations. In this way, the researchers want to ensure they can really be applied by companies at an early stage. The project partners will then provide universal knowledge about these specific problem solutions in the form of hardware and software components in the digital library.

Das Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur (BMVI) fördert das Projekt über einen Zeitraum von drei Jahren mit insgesamt rund 25 Millionen Euro. Projektpartner sind neben dem Fraunhofer IML auch das Fraunhofer-Institut für Software- und Systemtechnik ISST sowie die Technische Universität Dortmund.