We stand on the brink of a new industrial revolution, driven by technological breakthroughs such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, big data analytics, robotics and 3D printing. They open new horizons for industry to become more efficient, to improve processes and to develop innovative products and services. They also help industry to respond to customers' demand for personalised products & services, safety and comfort as well as improved energy and resource efficiency.
European industry is well positioned to make the most of this digital opportunity. European industry is strong in sectors such as electronics for automotive, security and energy markets, telecom equipment, business software, and laser and sensor technologies. Europe also hosts world-class research and technology institutes.
However, while many parts of the economy have been quick to take up digital technologies and processes, high-tech sectors face strong competition from other parts of the world and many traditional sectors and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are lagging behind.
The goal of the EU's first industry-related initiative of the Digital Single Market strategy is to ensure that Europe is ready for the growth in the emerging markets for future digital products and services. This will require sustained and coordinated investment from the public and private sectors.
Building on and complementing the various national initiatives for digitising industry, such as Industrie 4.0, Smart Industry and l'industrie du futur, the Commission will use its policy instruments, financial support, coordination and legislative powers to trigger further investments in all industrial sectors.
This includes working with the EU's Member States to focus investment in public-private partnerships; pooling resources for ground-breaking developments in digital technologies and platforms including world-class cloud infrastructure for science & innovation as well as large scale test-beds to accelerate standards setting.
What can we do?
- The biggest gains can come from triggering further public and private investments to significantly boost the digital innovation capacity of Europe. This includes linking up the many existing EU, national and regional initiatives to better focus investments and make the most of the opportunities offered by the European Fund for Strategic Investments and European Structural and Investment Funds.
- A pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs for businesses to access and test digital innovations in a safe environment and master their digital transformation.
- The EU's digital and industrial public private partnerships are not only producers of innovation; they also bring together the best of the policy & private sector to coordinate EU-wide efforts with national and industrial strategies.
- Encourage more pooling and alignment of resources. If Member States were to focus at least €3 billion per year of national and regional R&D&I investments to supporting these strategies, Europe would see a radical change in its innovation capacity.
- Legislation needs to look to the future, for example by clarifying the ownership of data generated by sensors and smart devices, reviewing rules on safety and liability of autonomous systems and presenting legislation on the free flow of data (coming later in the year).
- We need to look at how the needs of industry for a skilled labour force can be met by our education and training systems, for example, through the EU's Grand Coalition for digital jobs and through the EU skills strategy.
How can you support the implementation of the actions?
We would like stakeholders to engage with a view to:
- Identify good practices of access to digital technologies, of skills, of regulations which allow for a wide dissemination of digital innovations.
- Promote centers of competence and digital innovation hubs which support industry to experiment with new technology
- Identify relevant publications, digital readiness assessment, …
- Raise awareness about the digital transformation
- Connect stakeholders
- Support the mobilisation of resources