BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has agreed to work with the United States to find common standards to connect to the Internet as part of its plan to modernize its small and mid-sized businesses for the digital age and safeguard its industrial competitiveness.
Europe's biggest economy owes much of its exporting prowess to its small-to-mid-sized, often family-owned manufacturers, many of which are latecomers to Internet-era technology.
Officials are concerned that a failure to capitalize on the latest digital trends will leave its industrial base exposed to new competitors in the United States and Asia.
Germany, which launched its "Industrie 4.0" platform in 2013 to promote the digitization of industry, will collaborate on common standards with the U.S.-based Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC).
"Collaborating with other initiatives is important, especially for Germany's export-orientated economy," said Siegfried Russwurm, chair of Platform Industrie 4.0 and Chief Technology Officer at Siemens
"We are highly interested to cooperate intensively with others in order to pave the way for global standards."
AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel founded the IIC in March 2014 to accelerate the widespread adoption of everyday devices with software and analytics.
While Industrie 4.0 has focused on manufacturing, the IIC is looking at the adoption of industrial internet technologies across industries, including healthcare, energy, transportation and the public domain.
Representatives from both organizations met in Zurich to see if they could find common ground. They agreed to set up a regular technical exchange on making sure the platforms could work together in the future and to discuss common testing initiatives.
"This will allow for much smoother international cooperation between smaller companies and larger enterprise to test out use cases and initiate standards," said Bernd Leukert, a member of the managing board at German software maker SAP.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley, editing by Louise Heavens)