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Digitization is already shaping mechanical engineering, and it's no exaggeration to say it will be one of the issues that will dominate the industry in the future. Although this isn't exactly virgin territory, the solutions associated with digitization are nonetheless new technologies that often flourish particularly well in the creative atmosphere of startups. HANNOVER MESSE 2017 offered an excellent illustration of how startups are becoming increasingly important to industry. The VDMA (the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association), now in its 125th anniversary year, is keen to provide optimum support for this development with a new network as part of the VDMA Future Business Competence Center. The Startup Machine will see the VDMA bring together startups and mechanical engineering companies and support them in joint projects. The association is also committed to identifying and validating startups whose work in key forward-looking areas such as augmented reality, machine learning and blockchain technology can boost mechanical engineering companies in Germany.

The Startup Machine’s whole purpose is therefore mechanical engineering “matchmaking”. Hartmut Rauen, VDMA Deputy Executive Director, explains the concept: "Associations are service providers for their members, and we want to use the Startup Machine to harness the potential for our industry to successfully shape the technological revolution. Yet startups - particularly in digitization, Industry 4.0 and electrification of vehicle drive systems - can also add an extra dimension with their innovations and ways of working. We're keen to give startups access to our industry, enabling them to find out directly whether their ideas and projects really work for our market." The VDMA is looking in particular to use activities such as hackathons, matchmaking, skunk works and digital innovation journeys to strengthen the new network’s links between industry and startups in the future. From 17 to 18 October 2017, the VDMA Startup Machine is joining forces with trade journal Produktion at the 9th German Mechanical Engineering Summit in Berlin, where it will be bringing together everything that is currently driving the industry under the banner "A radically changing world - the consequences for mechanical and plant engineering".