Business initiative: About us

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The Business Initiative Smart Living was founded on 14 March 2017.

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The digitization of applications for private households, for example in the areas of comfort and security, energy management and self-determined living in old age, is progressing rapidly. The expansion of the internet and the spread of networkable household components as well as mobile communication devices create new applications for homes and new business models. As a result, the smart living market is becoming more and more important. With a rapidly growing market, German companies in particular are predicted to account for a large share of the global market volume.

Nevertheless, German companies face major challenges in the smart living market, especially with regard to cross-industry interoperability, data security, usability, support in procurement and installation as well as competition from foreign companies. Removing market barriers is therefore crucial if the German suppliers and manufacturers are not to lose promising market opportunities.

The German industry agrees that these challenges can only be overcome through a coordinated approach. To achieve this goal, more than 40 leading companies and associations launched the Buisness Initiative Smart Living in March 2017.

What is the purpose of the initiative

The motivation behind the Business Initiative Smart Living

The Business Initiative Smart Living was founded on 14 March 2017 at the world's leading trade fair for HVAC + water, the ISH.

WI Motivation

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The terms smart home and smart living are synonyms for the digitization of living environments. The expansion of the internet and the spread of networkable (and sensory) household components as well as mobile and wireless communication devices create entirely new applications for private households as well as new business models for companies. The digital transformation leads to major changes in value chains and the shares in value-added trade. Software and internet-based platforms for complex smart living applications make components that were previously important domains of German manufacturers interchangeable. Successful platform operators are becoming the determining factor in the use of standards, among other things. There is a danger that manufacturers and suppliers of components will find themselves playing only a secondary role in the market.

Experts believe that the market for smart home technologies is going to experience a strong increase in growth and sales levels. A study by the BMWi estimates that the achievable Smart Home market volume in Germany alone will rise to around 20 billion euros in 2025.

It is not only in Germany that the market is still characterized by a multitude of proprietary and isolated solutions that are not interoperable. The biggest market barriers are a lack of investment security, insufficient confidence in data security (data protection, IT security) and a vague sense among many users of the numerous functionalities of smart home technologies, which in addition are often difficult to operate (poor usability). The chief concern in the housing industry, which constitutes a large application potential for smart living solutions, is new models for refinancing investments. Architects, engineers and the construction industry, in turn, require security to plan ahead. And in the skilled trades industry the most important matter is, above all, new qualification requirements.

Removing market barriers is crucial if German small and medium-sized suppliers and manufacturers are not to lose promising market opportunities. Over the last few years, the BMWi has carried out a number of R&D funding measures that demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of smart home applications in areas such as living comfort, home security, energy management and health services.

It has become apparent, however, that further efforts are urgently needed to stimulate the transfer of the achieved results into marketable products and, in particular, into the development of a mass-oriented German lead market for smart living products to the benefit of German manufacturers and suppliers. This includes the creation of common standards such as defining universal criteria for the quality and safety of smart living products, developing qualification measures in the skilled trades industry and creating a location label as a unique selling point in exports.

What the initiative aims to achieve

The objectives of the Business Initiative Smart Living

WI Ziele

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The aim of the business initiative is to promote a common effort by German companies to accelerate the transfer of innovations to the market, remove existing barriers and develop sustainable market strategies.

The Business Initiative Smart Living aims to:  

  • develop forward-looking strategies and new applications for a German lead market and initiate new forms of cooperation;
  • establish uniform quality and safety standards;
  • sensitize society and the industry to the opportunities of smart living;
  • provide impetus for targeted innovation efforts and future-proof jobs;
  • develop tailor-made qualification and training measures;
  • contribute to the creation of the necessary legal framework.

The Business Initiative Smart Living is supported by the companies and associations that participate in the initiative. It channels all activities in the smart living sector across initiatives, standards and platforms. Companies and associations in Germany that operate in the smart living sector are invited to participate.

Since April 2017 the National Office Smart Living has been coordinating and supporting the activities of the initiative on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) and it has been the point of contact for interested companies, initiatives, politicians and the public.

The three workgroups

The Workgroups of the Business Initiative Smart Living

WI Arbeitsgruppen

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Workgroup 1 "Market and Mission Statement" aims to continuously monitor developments in the market to develop strategic and operational advantages that can be transformed into competitive advantages. The workgroup will also create and develop the mission statement of the initiative. The mission statement describes the self-image and basic principles of the initiative and defines the vision of the initiative, its mission and its goals.

Workgroup 2 "Law" pursues the goal of analysing, evaluating and preparing the legal basis for smart living and providing suggestions for further developments or additions. Consumer protection, questions of information security and data protection as well as the protection of privacy and the handling of intellectual property are on the agenda, as are questions of product liability.

Workgroup 3 "Qualification" has set itself the task of improving the social acceptance of smart living through training and qualification programs, building trust and counteracting the uncertainty about smart living that still exists at times, and establishing a uniform and consistent communication standard about smart living, independent of trades or other institutions.