Digitalisation in Saxony-Anhalt

HERE IT creates future.

Excellent framework conditions are boosting the variety and dynamism of the ICT sector in Saxony-Anhalt. Cloud computing, big data analyses, network security, E-health and augmented reality are the current keywords which stand for modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Supported by the government of the federal state, they are helping to strengthen companies’ competitiveness and create future-proof jobs in Saxony-Anhalt.

The potential of our region in the field of ICT is growing all the time. Our expertise in this area will enable us to forge ahead with the process of digitalisation in Saxony-Anhalt and handle the tasks and the work of the future. See yourself.

ICT location Saxony-Anhalt: Hard facts

Location is established. Research and training centres are spawning high-performance specialists – they are programming the state for the future! About 500 innovative and partially internationally active companies form the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. We know the passwords for their ideas.

Companies of the ICT industry

ICT networks

Employees of the ICT industry

Specialist potential

Digitalisation in Saxony-Anhalt

Digitalisation. What does that mean? Why is it so important? What is the added value? Where does the potential lie? Lars Bendler, CEO of LINTRA Solutions GmbH answers these key questions.

Importance of digital technology

Digital basic technology

Increase a company's competitiveness

Acces and understand digitalisation

Development in different sectors

Use of digital technology

Key reasons for disuse

Sufficient information

Create motivation

Dreams of the future

LINTRA Solutions GmbH in video

LINTRA has been in SharePoint business for over 14 years now. Hence, it is one of the most experienced SharePoint consulting companies in Germany. During these years the company accumulated knowledge of a large amount of SharePoint project results in development and consulting as well as in application and implementation of standard and customized SharePoint solutions. LINTRA has international clients in diverse industries and is additionally focused on advising on application development and the implementation of their own standardized solutions and business applications for SharePoint and Office 365.

IT Safety: Encountering dangers – minimising the risks


There is no such thing as “one hundred percent security” and there probably never will be. According to the definition of the German Federal Office for Information Technology Security, IT security is “a state in which the risks that arise during the use of information technology due to threats and weaknesses are reduced to an acceptable level with the use of the appropriate measures." For digitalisation to be able to succeed, cyber security is an essential prerequisite, and the number of companies operating in this area in Saxony-Anhalt is growing accordingly.

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Businesses and universities in Saxony-Anhalt are working at full pelt on solutions in the large-scale building site of IT-security

For example, the company AV-Test GmbH has become a world-leading provider of IT security and anti-virus research services; the company DIGITTRADE GmbH is developing and producing external hard disks and USB sticks with hardware encryption, as well as certified solutions for the storage of sensitive data on mobile storage media. It therefore comes as no surprise that IT security and data protection are key focal points of the "Digital Agenda" which is currently being developed in Saxony-Anhalt under the aegis of the Ministry of Economics, Science and Digitisation.

“One in every two companies in Germany is affected by digital attacks, which result in some 52 billion Euros of damage per year,” highlights Franz Weisbrich. Franz Weisbrich is an industrial engineer and the executive chairman of the company "Sengi IT", a start-up from Halle. Four young professionals, graduates of business administration and computer science, founded Sengi IT with the help of the start-up service at the University of Halle. "We offer a highly secure cloud storage service for decentralised teams," explains Franz Weisbrich. The cloud solution is easy to use and provides employees with secure access to company data, also when they are on the move. The data is encrypted, split into small parts and then stored in various independent data centres in Germany. In cases of attempted theft, attackers are unable to make head or tail of the “snippets”. "And no one knows, not even ourselves, which data is stored where," emphasises Franz Weisbrich. Sengi IT wants to present its products at the CEBIT trade fair for the first time.

Sandro Wefel, a computer scientist at the University of Halle, describes the topic of IT security as being a “large-scale building site". A university, for example, is particularly susceptible to attacks due to its structure. "Our networks are protected differently from companies; they are more open so as to ensure the freedom of our teaching and research. In addition to this, many devices are connected to our systems which have not been designed for security, such as robots. And then there is the fact that employees and students work with their own devices, which are susceptible to transferring malicious software onto the university network,” explains Dr. Wefel.

In a project developed together with Harz University of Applied Sciences, Dr. Wefel is hoping to bring about added security. Users will be able to identify themselves in the online university services with a smart card which is very difficult to forge. It is envisaged that only a card reader and a PIN will be required and the use of a password will be omitted. Equipping employees and students with chip cards, however, is currently too complex. Dr. Sandro Wefel hopes that the results of the project can be implemented by 2020 at the latest on the basis of the distribution of an electronic ID card which could then be used as a smart card.

There can be no doubt that the situation is urgent. Private and public organisations are now dependent on IT systems in all their areas of business and people are using them more and more frequently in their daily lives. And at the same time, the threats are growing: data theft, sabotage, espionage, technical system failures and the misuse of systems by changing the published content, for example. The threats often go unnoticed and are usually only recognised in the event of damage, and they come in many forms. Malware such as trojans, computer viruses, and also ransomware, botnets and identity theft are currently causing damage that runs into the billions of Euros.

The BSI describes a new kind of the threat in its current situation report: "The increasing extent of digitisation and networking due to developments such as the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 and Smart Everything is offering cyber attackers new potential areas of incursion almost every day, as well as extensive possibilities to spy on information, sabotage business- and administrative processes, and to enrich themselves at the expense of third parties with the use of criminal methods.” With simultaneous freedom of information, solutions for the areas of data protection and data security will not only continue to experience a boom in Saxony-Anhalt; the search portal  of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt also lists in excess of a hundred projects from the last years in which researchers and businesses have addressed the issues surrounding IT security, whether it is in the fields of agriculture, healthcare, tourism or motoring.

E-Health: When computer scientists step in and help doctors

Forschungscampus STIMULATE

The best medicine is the doctor – so say both studies and life experience. But what if there is no doctor – because no successor was found for the family practice in a sparsely populated region, or because an aging population needs more medical care than the current capacity is able to provide? This is where telemedicine – an example of E-health – can step in. Computer scientists in Saxony-Anhalt are collaborating closely with doctors, transforming measured data into images, helping to transfer data, and therefore improving medical care.

An example from the city of Halle an der Saale. Here, the public housing association Hallesche Wohnungsgenossenschaft FREIHEIT eG is examining the practicability of telemedicine in a pilot project with several partners. With the possibilities offered by telemedicine, medical treatment services in the home or in critical areas of care can be assured by providing support to medical doctors, for example. Furthermore, the self-sufficiency and quality of life of the affected patients can be significantly improved.

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Great value basic research
While telemedicine is easing the burden during daily life and reducing the time needed to travel to the doctor and for waiting, Saxony-Anhalt researchers are also addressing fundamental questions in the field of medicine, in which data processing plays a key role. In this context, Prof. Dr. eng. Bernhard Preim and Dr. eng. Benjamin Köhler, a computer visualist at the Institute for Simulation and Graphics in the Faculty of Computer Science at Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg, have developed a software package known as "Bloodline", which analyses the blood turbulence on the walls of the coronary arteries. Both are computer scientists. Bernhard Preim admits to being personally "infected" with the subject of medicine: he is married to Dr. Uta Preim, who is a radiologist. "The project was initiated by my wife, who worked as a radiologist for a year at the Cardiology Centre in Leipzig and naturally knew that we, as computer scientists, could contribute to the evaluation of blood flow data." The development of the algorithms and software has been managed almost entirely by Benjamin Köhler." Professor Preim is proud of his “extremely proficient doctoral student". The topic as a whole is as relevant in the world of medical research as it is in computer science research. Taking third place in the area of basic research as part of the Hugo Junkers Prize 2016 was an additional reward for their work – in addition to the recognition that they have gained at the professional level.

What will become of Bloodline? "The software is a prototype for research purposes only. The 4D PC-MRI measurement technology, which is the official name of Bloodline, is still a long way from being suitable for use in everyday clinical practice,” explains Benjamin Köhler. The software is, however, currently being used for studies and further research at the University Hospital in Magdeburg and in the Cardiology Centre in Leipzig. Both Uta Preim and PhD students work with the software, and regularly give their feedback to Benjamin Köhler. The ultimate purpose of the software is to provide predictive – and therefore better – treatment options for diseases of the coronary arteries.

Time is health
Otto-von-Guericke-University is also committed to the practice of telemedical research, however, so as to enable stroke patients to receive the rapid help that they require when no specialist hospital care is available in their immediate vicinity. "With our Telemedical Acute Stroke Care, or TASC, we have been able to ensure that patients who suffer a stroke receive the medicine they need as quickly as possible in the immediate aftermath – so that they benefit from significantly improved chances of recovery," highlights Peter Knüppel. The University has founded a network in which several clinics in the northern part of Saxony-Anhalt have participated. The patient data has been evaluated at Magdeburg University Hospital and the treatment has been provided on-site. Short decision-making paths, rapid help, better recovery. "We have now reached a point at which the research potential has been exhausted, so we have stepped down from our role of medical technicians. The TASC is still going strong, however." Computer scientist Knüppel is happy with the project’s sustainability. The ASTER project has emerged as something of a follow-up development. In this project, businesses and the university have joined forces to optimise the equipment available in ambulances for the optimal care of stroke patients.

The proximity between the physicians, computer scientists, computer visualists and other specialists in Saxony-Anhalt helps experts to apply their knowledge in networks on a focused basis. It is on this basis that they have succeeded in developing Bloodline and TASC, and are inviting participants to join the "Living 4.0" project. Saxony-Anhalt can be seen to punch above its weight – thanks to its well-educated and ambitious young researchers who want to invent "something which is useful".

Augmented reality: The factory of the future and the workbench 2.0

Concepts from Saxony-Anhalt are helping the technology to achieve its breakthrough. These days, augmented reality (AR) is an indispensable part of the process of digitalisation for companies and researchers alike. Visualising objects in virtual form saves costs, time and effort. This is because AR enables the precise visual and spatial visualisation of invisible characteristics and projects directly in their actual environment. Companies and research facilities in Saxony-Anhalt are working both on and with AR solutions.

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The factory of the future and the workbench 2.0
A lot is happening right now in the laboratory of the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in Magdeburg. Test rigs for the research projects, with their robotic arms, cameras, projectors and computers, are everywhere to be seen. "It is important that we look into research for industry, for instance, in terms of the actual context, and see how augmented reality can be used in applications on a meaningful basis and also be integrated into work processes to perfection," explains Dr. Simon Adler of the Fraunhofer IFF. Each application requires a specific degree of accuracy for the superimposing. At a scale-oriented and fully functional 3D replica of an industrial system, Dr. Simon Adler holds a tablet next to the system, which has just reported an error. "The warning signal flashes on the tablet just above the point where the error actually occurred. In addition, an error code isolates the possible fault. We basically use the augmentation in three areas: for seeking and finding, for orientation and for evaluation,” explains the scientist.

At the next test stand, a robot arm, machine components and a workbench have been set up. Four projectors above the system project a grid onto the touch-sensitive floor. This enables people and their movements to be located in the room. Their next movements and the swivel range of the robot are also shown in the form of a colour scheme. The robot's safety area is not normally visible. The visualisation of the dynamic safety areas, and therefore the imparting of the intensity of movement, offer the advantage that they prevent an individual person from unconsciously triggering the robot to stop. If a person enters the danger area, however, the robot will slow down and stop as they approach it, thereby preventing the person from suffering an injury. "In this area of robotic systems, we are testing human-robot collaboration. This means that fixed safety barriers, which take time to set up and adapt, can be omitted. This is also of considerable relevance for ensuring compliance with the high standards and requirements of professional associations regarding occupational safety,” highlights Dr. Simon Adler, explaining how the test field works.

In contrast, the next test bench looks like it has come straight from the factory: a workplace with mounting brackets, with displays positioned in front of it and cameras above it. "The cameras present live, precise images of the next assembly steps to be necessary and the specific components that have to be used,” explains the scientist. This assembly demonstrator plans how the workpiece should be fitted, superimposes reality and identifies errors that would not otherwise be visible. "Our customers come from the worlds of business and industry, and include the companies Kolbus GmbH and Co. KG, Premium Aerotec GmbH and MTU Aero Engines AG. We are also collaborating with projects at the federal German and EU levels. The experiences that we gain are then made available to independently interested companies. "Working together with our researchers and partners from the world of industry, with the use of augmentation, I believe that we can make a major contribution to making production processes safer, simpler, more flexible and more effective. We are currently looking for different approaches and solutions for industry. That is the key strength of the Fraunhofer IFF in Magdeburg."

The enhanced X-ray vision for the field of medicine
Situated right next to the Fraunhofer IFF in Magdeburg is the futuristic building of the Experimental Factory – or EXFA for short. EXFA is the research and transfer centre for application-oriented research and development on the campus of the Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg, and it is also the home of the research campus STIMULATE. Here, interdisciplinary teams are investigating and developing image-guided methods of diagnostics and treatment which focus on the disease patterns with the highest degree of social relevance today.

In one of these labs, junior professor Christian Hansen is standing in front of an operating field on at artificial torso. With 3D glasses and a laparoscope, he is examining how minimally invasive surgery in the liver and the kidneys can take place in the future. "We use raw data from imaging techniques such as MRI and CT. On this basis, we create three-dimensional images and superimpose them with the stereoscopic video images of the living object,” says the degree-qualified computer visionist, explaining the research project which started just a few days ago. The 3D image of the endoscope is superimposed with a virtual image of the organ, its vessels and the tumour via a high-resolution display. It is similar to shining a torch into a darkened room: only the genuinely necessary information is brought into the field of view. "All of this happens before the surgeon makes their first incision in the organ. The challenge is in achieving the high degree of precision which is required. After all, the technology will go into use on the living patient in the operating theatre, whose organs are constantly moving and changing shape – for example, through the patient's breathing and their heart beat,” explains Hansen. It is thought that the procedure will find use both in the planning of operations and during a laparoscopy.

Christian Hansen is currently working on several projects in the area of image-guided therapy. "The BMBF and the government of Saxony-Anhalt recognised the potential of the medical technology sector over the coming decades at the right time, and have supported the location of Magdeburg in the areas of research and development. The Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg established its course in medical technology some years ago. Magdeburg is now one of the most attractive research centres for up-and-coming young scientists, and we are increasingly highly regarded outside our region. Leading industrial partners are gradually setting up here, giving the location of Magdeburg and the surrounding region an additional boost in this field," highlights Hansen. On this basis, STIMULATE is now involved in research and development projects worldwide. Christian Hansen will soon be packing his bags to spend a year working as a research fellow at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, where he will help to expand the international network of the STIMULATE research campus and raise the international profile of the research location of Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt even further.