The ZuKIPro project is being extended. To ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not lose out in times of rapid digital change, the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS) has launched a funding program for regional AI (Artificial Intelligence) Hubs for Tomorrow. Their focus is on the participatory and human-centered design, introduction and use of digital technologies.

The Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University, as consortium leader, will establish the Hub for Human-centered AI in Production from now on, together with six other partners in Hessen within the framework of the funding program. Based on the analysis of region-specific support needs, it will in future offer various consulting services and innovative teaching and learning concepts for qualification in the subject areas of digitization and artificial intelligence. SMEs in the manufacturing and skilled trades in Hessen and their employees are to benefit from this free offering in the long term.

Regional Expertise for SMEs in Hesse

The Hub for Human-centered AI in Production creates a practice-oriented format for consulting, qualification, testing and diffusion of digital technologies. It is intended to promote participatory work and technology design and enable SMEs to tap the potential of digital technologies in work and business processes. In addition, ZuKIPro will act as a neutral contact and transfer point for SMEs, sponsors, technology providers and social partners.

ZuKIPro's offerings are tangible and practice-oriented: As part of the so-called platform module, companies can bring a mobile AI lab directly onto the company premises and experience prototypical AI applications. Digital qualification offerings, such as a learning and knowledge platform or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), bring the topics of digitization and artificial intelligence to life for employees. Through these formats, the Future Center enables companies and their employees to recognize and analyze the challenges in their own companies, to independently initiate, design and implement learning and solution processes, and to evaluate the results.

The aim of the AI introduction module is to create a low-threshold approach to the topic. To this end, SMEs are supported in the participatory, co-creative introduction and human-centered design of AI systems. Across all modules, the Future Center informs and advises small and medium-sized enterprises according to their needs and enables them to implement concrete solutions. In this project phase, solutions for sustainability, demography and diversity are also included in the digitalisation support for SMEs as additional focal points for action.

In order to provide a regionally or locally optimized offer, a total of three offices will be set up. These provide the services and expertise of the participating project collaborates in bundled form in the individual parts of the state: Northern Hessen (Kassel), Central Hessen (Frankfurt a. M.) and Southern Hessen (Darmstadt).

All project partners pull together

The consortium behind the Hub for Human-centered AI in Production, ZuKIPro, comprises scientific research institutes, chambers, associations and companies that, together with a network of associated partners, are pursuing the goal of advancing digital development with a focus on AI in SMEs.

The strategy of the Hub for Human-centered AI in Production, ZuKIPro, is to establish and make accessible a large Hessen-wide network with partners from local, regional and supra-regional organizations, initiatives and associations. In particular, the combination of technological, ergonomic and socio-political expertise and experience in transfer distinguishes this unique network in Hessen. Through the supra-regional project staffing with partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, Hessen and Rhineland-Palatinate, a close networking with the other future centers is also aimed at in order to use synergies and to continuously develop the offer.

Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence for Production

In the ZuKIPro project, ITA is taking on part of the labor science support for the project, together with the Institute for Labor Science at the TU Darmstadt and the University of Kassel. In addition to advising medium-sized companies with a focus on the region of southern Hesse, ITA's main focus is on the development and implementation of digital qualification offerings such as an online learning platform and a digital learning game. ITA has many years of experience in research and consulting on participatory, human-centered selection, introduction and implementation of digital (AI) technologies. This includes the PFL-EX and DiCo projects, which are also funded by the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS), as well as the Mittelstand 4.0 Competence Center Kaiserslautern, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

The project will start in January 2023 and end in December 2026.

Further information at

Project title

Zukunftszentrum für menschzentrierte Künstliche Intelligenz (KI) in der Produktionsarbeit (ZUKIPRO-2)

Duration: January 2023 - December 2026

Project partners

  • Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University - Chair of Manufacturing Technology.
  • Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University - Chair of Production Metrology and Quality Management
  • University of Kassel (UKS)
  • Darmstadt University of Technology represented by the Department of Information Systems | Software & Digital Business (TUD)
  • IHK Kassel-Marburg and IHK Hessen-Innovativ
  • Regional Management Nordhessen GmbH (RMNH)
  • Advisory Service for Technology Impact and Qualification ( BTQ) at the ver.di Bildungswerk Hessen e.V.


Das Projekt „Zukunftszentrum für menschenzentrierte KI in der Produktionsarbeit (ZUKIPRO)“ wird im Rahmen des Programms „Zukunftszentren“ durch das Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales und die Europäische Union über den Europäischen Sozialfonds Plus (ESF Plus) gefördert.

Contact person

Dr. Viola Hellge