DIGITAL REGIONS partners have recently published the 'Industry 4.0 Policy White Paper', a document that explains the methodology used by the regions involved within the project.

The 8 participant regions Bavaria (DE), Slovenia (SI), Espace Mittelland-Canton of Bern (CH), Border, Midland and Western (IE), Centro (PT), Cantabria (ES), Varna (BG) and West (RO) reflect on the main challenges for the uptake of I4.0, the areas of attention and opportunities to address these challenges, each participating region's development level, how to leverage universities as I4.0 innovation engines, regional I4.0 programmes, outreach facilities, advanced facilities and ecosystems, elements of I4.0 policies and conclusions.

The common challenge addressed by DIGITAL REGIONS initiative is how to best adapt innovation policies to support smart specialisation in the manufacturing sector as a result of the emergence of INDUSTRY 4.0. Through their transnational cooperation, the partnership aims to achieve, by 2022, a 15% increase of the number of SMEs from manufacturing sector cooperating with other innovation actors in the participant regions to implement I4.0 solutions as a result of improved innovation policies. "All have manufacturing as a smart specialisation priority and are represented by an appropriate mix of partners from each region's innovation value-chain including managing authorities, universities, Industry 4.0 Centres of Excellence and business development intermediaries", mentions DIGITAL REGIONS Project Leader and ERNACT Programme Manager Daniela Copaci.

Partners have involved local stakeholders in each region’s innovation ecosystem (innovation policy makers, SMEs that use I4.0 solutions, suppliers of I4.0 services, universities and innovation centres, among others) into an exchange of experience and learning process leading to the definition of concrete actions to facilitate improved I4.0 policies. Thus, 8 Regional Action Plans have been developed to facilitate improved I4.0 policy cooperation between regions, increased SMEs participation and availability of I4.0 skills. "This will result in instruments which better meet the needs of I4.0 in smart specialisation manufacturing regions, taking into account revised 2021-2027 Investment for Growth and Jobs priorities and the new Horizon Europe and Digital Europe policies", she adds.

All the Action Plans respond to the challenges identified through a context analysis carried out in the eight European regions involved to identify current gaps and opportunities related to the regional and national innovation policies. According to Daniela, the regional context analysis and its benchmarking among the participating regions provided the foundations to improve the regional innovation policy and to better exploit the potential of Industry 4.0 in the manufacturing sector of the participant regions.

Read the document.