Center Smart Industrial Agriculture



Logo des Centers Smart Industrial Agriculture

Grow More with Less

Agriculture was industrialized over the course of the last century – this development will only accelerate during the 21st century. The aim is that a lesser number of farmers produces more on the same area of agricultural land. Agricultural production growth was bought with significant negative consequences for the environment, in terms of water consumption, loss of biodiversity and pollution. The structure of a sustainable and more productive agriculture of the future will be similar to today’s manufacturing industry and can therefore be based on its approach. Performance and productivity of the various types of cultivation can be further increased with the use of production technology. In this context, the performance of soil-based production (i.e. agriculture) can be optimized with sensor technology, mobile robotics and networking of components, while in off-ground production (vertical farming), production management and process automation can revolutionize the industrial production of agricultural goods.


The Center Smart Industrial Agriculture seeks to introduce a paradigm change in today’s agriculture. The aim is to sustainably support today’s industrial agriculture with its predominantly less resource-conserving cultivation with industrially established processes, methods and tools to support a more circular economy.

The center is expected to play a key role in shaping the future agricultural value chain as a one-stop shop in the agricultural market for Smart Agriculture (soil-based production) and Industrial Agriculture (soil-independent production).


The vision can only be addressed in an interdisciplinary approach that combines academia and industry, as well as agriculture and production technology. The center collaborates with several chairs at RWTH Aachen University (including the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering WZL and the Chair of Biotechnology), with regional and national businesses, and with associations and cities. Here, new approaches for the efficient development of innovative products, services and business models for the agricultural value chain are generated and an influential and interdisciplinary network is being established, which is essential – and to date unique – for this topic area. In addition to building knowledge and sharing best practices, this network elaborates on specific topics and implements collaborative and pre-competitive projects. On that basis, living labs (e.g. Living Field, Living Greenhouse and Living Vertical Farm) can be created in the medium term to position themselves as start-up incubators for the food market.
Current status and potential of cultivation types in the context of a smart, industrialized agriculture

Areas of Competence

The development of sustainable concepts for agriculture requires a holistic approach that combines all the steps relevant to the solution in the individual disciplines, while simultaneously creating the necessary interfaces between them. The Center Smart Industrial Agriculture comprises the following areas of competence:

  • Machine technology
  • Control and automation technology
  • Production management
  • Innovation management
  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular bioeconomy

Research Topics

On the one hand, the Center Smart Industrial Agriculture addresses topics that will result in significant increases in productivity for traditional, soil-based production. On the other, it conducts interdisciplinary research on production technology and biotechnology in the field of soil-independent food production. To that end, an interdisciplinary team of academics from the participating institutes collaborates with a consortium of companies on visionary solutions to questions from the following key topics:

  • Communication technology
  • Redesign of value chains and business models
  • Resource efficiency in agricultural management
  • Routing of autonomous vehicles
  • Situational awareness (AI, Big Data, sensor fusion)
  • Trailer machinery electrification
  • Cultivation process automation
  • Control technology (control system technology)
  • Interlinking of processes and intralogistics
  • Disruptive industrial production
  • Crop science
  • Vertical farming

Service Offering

Individual businesses can enroll as members of the Center Smart Industrial Agriculture regardless of their industry affiliation. An enrollment gives them access to the scientific expertise of the participating research institutes at RWTH Aachen University, to best practice solutions within the community, and the opportunity to collaborate in consortial and bilateral projects. Through joint research and development in an industrial consortium, the companies pool their know-how and share the effort. Enrolled members can furthermore participate with their products in living labs. They can then integrate their own solutions and approaches in a demonstrator to illustrate how they work.
Potential stakeholders for the Center Smart Industrial Agriculture
Depending on the type of membership (Premium, Business or Basic), members will be assigned different rights within the five benefit categories:


  • Access to RWTH Aachen Campus Community
  • Temporary use of shared desks
  • The right to lease conference rooms
  • Use of the RWTH Aachen Campus membership logo


  • Annual congress on the topic of Smart Industrial Agriculture
  • Various topic-specific workshops

Research & Development

  • Consortial R&D projects
  • Bilateral R&D projects
  • Involvement in consortial research studies and benchmarking
  • Involvement in the development of project topics
  • Participation in strategic planning
  • Consortial establishment of living labs


  • Consulting services in the field of Smart Industrial Agriculture
  • Strategy meetings on the orientation of the center and the alignment of member companies
  • Use of living labs to test innovative solutions

Further Education

  • Company-specific in-house courses
  • Open seminar offering on the topic area of Smart Industrial Agriculture

Initiators of the Center Smart Industrial Agriculture

Initiator Brecher


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Brecher

Prof. Brecher is Chair of the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University. Six research areas focus on machine technology, automation technology, machine data analysis, gear technology, precision machines, and fiber composite and laser system technology. Its objective is application-oriented research that takes into account the needs and requirements of manufacturers and users. Many years of research work in the field of control technology and automation lay the foundation for new approaches in agribusiness.

Initiator Schuh


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Wirt. Ing. Günther Schuh

As Chair of Production Engineering, Prof. Schuh is a driving force behind the interconnection between academia and industry at the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University. In the Center Smart Industrial Agriculture, he represents competences around the topics of innovation management, production management and integrated product and process development. His main focus is on a holistic production system design for sustainable agriculture.

Portrait Prof. Schwaneberg


Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schwaneberg

Prof. Schwaneberg is Chair of Biotechnology at RWTH Aachen University. The scientific focus and expertise of his research group is protein design. The group combines methods of directed evolution with rational design approaches to identify fundamental design principles of proteins and improve their properties. Practical applications include release systems in the fields of crop protection and medicine (conjugated to micro gels), dealing with the microplastics issue, and (antimicrobial) coating of surfaces (as bi-functional fusion peptides).


Have we peaked your interest? We look forward to hearing from you without obligation and will be happy to explain the structure and benefits of the Center Smart Industrial Agriculture for your specific topic area.


Dr.-Ing. Michael Riesener

Phone: +49 151 550 59 207


Portrait Philipp Blanke Center Smart Industrial Agriculture


Philipp Blanke

Phone: +49 174 6731418


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