Needs assessment of the future of SMEs digital (future support needs for the sustainable digital transformation of medium-sized businesses, in particular of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and handcraft businesses)

Digitization has also been changing SMEs for some time now. At the same time, the environment for SMEs has also changed significantly in recent years: The economy and society are in permanent crisis mode. In view of these new trends and challenges, the question arises as to how SMEs should be supported to cope with the digital transformation and ensure competitiveness in the future. New trends in the SMEs and artisan environment mean new opportunities but also risks for competitiveness. The task of SME policy here is to support SMEs in coping with these trends. 

This project will identify gaps in the current support offer for SMEs, especially with regard to the topic of economic, ecological and social sustainability and digitalization, and with a view to the internal perspective on the needs of SMEs, especially SMEs and artisans. A rich mix of methods with analyses of two long-term company surveys (repeated cross section data), expert interviews, analyses of the funding landscape and stakeholder workshops will be used to prepare and make visible the very different perspectives for the client.

An analysis of the needs of SMEs and handcraft businesses should make it possible to identify gaps in the current range of support for SMEs, especially with regard to the topic of economic, ecological and social sustainability and digitalization.


A mix of methods enables the integration of different perspectives.

  1. Quantitative analyses of cross-sectional data from the IW company survey and the Modernization of Production survey from recent years on challenges for SMEs in digitization.
  2. Expert interviews with managers from industry and associations to validate and supplement initial theses on particular challenges for SMEs.
  3. Sector-specific workshops with industry and association leaders and online feedback to prioritize specific needs.
  4. Identification of specific support needs and derivation of action requirements.


Project report and closing event.


01.2023-12.2023 (completed)


Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln Consult GmbH (IW Consult)