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Giving small- and medium-sized enterprises a voice: the GKD director is building bridges

Ingo and Stephan Kufferath, directors of GKD – GEBR. KUFFERATH AG (GKD), are committed representatives of the interests of SMEs and are active in a number of well-known committees. The German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF) has now elected Ingo Kufferath to its entrepreneurs' advisory board. In this function he will contribute his innovation policy experience when advising the managing board of the AiF.

As a research network supported by industry, the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF) offers various funding instruments for small and medium-sized companies from a single source. Since its foundation by industry and government in 1954 it has pursued the goal of supporting the innovative capacity of SMEs in a sustainable manner. For over 60 years the organization has built alliances with partners from the worlds of business, science and politics in order to transform ideas into marketable products or processes quickly. Today, 100 not-for-profit research associations from all sectors and fields of technology relevant to small- and medium-sized businesses, around 50,000 affiliated companies and roughly 1,200 participating institutes are united under its umbrella and form an interdisciplinary platform for industry and research. At the same time, the AiF offers innovation-driven SMEs access to the most important funding instruments: within the scope of the cooperative industrial research (IGF) program, companies can jointly perform application-oriented research and thereby compensate size-related disadvantages. In order to also meet individual research demand, IGF is closely interlinked with the Central Innovation Programme SME (ZIM). Both programs are sponsored with public funds by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The AiF contributed almost €533 million of these funds to around 11,000 projects in 2016 alone.

In 2013, the AiF elected a senate to act as an advisory interface between business, science and the political arena. The newly formed body, equally made up of representatives from industry, politics, business associations, research and funding agencies, also elected Ingo Kufferath as a senator. The key factor behind this was his many years of active work on the research advisory board and on the executive committee of the Institute for Industrial Management (FIR) at RWTH Aachen University. As a leading light for industry-oriented research and training within the scope of business organization and information technology, the FIR works to establish an organizational basis for digital networking in industrial enterprises. The AiF senate will be reelected every three years in accordance with its articles of association. To ensure that the expertise of the previous members of the body can still be utilized by the federation, an entrepreneurs’ advisory board was set up at the beginning of July 2017. In this newly founded body, Ingo Kufferath – now president of the executive committee of the FIR – was elected once again. Alongside another eleven colleagues on the council, he advises the managing board of AiF as a representative of small- and medium-sized companies.

Together with his brother Stephan, Ingo Kufferath is the third generation of his family to take the reins of GKD – GEBR. KUFFERATH AG. With its technical weave for industry and architecture the enterprise is a worldwide technological leader in technically sophisticated niche markets. The company’s experience as a hidden champion with application-oriented research and development as well as 20 years of collaboration with the FIR make Ingo Kufferath a prototypical representative of innovation-driven SMEs. As a passionate networker he sees his new task on the entrepreneurs’ advisory board of AiF as a further stepping stone toward a fruitful dialog between the worlds of business, science and politics.

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