Beyond ‘Industry 4.0’? Implications for Industrial and Regional Policy

Authors: David Bailey*, Aston University, Lisa De Propris*, University of Birmingham UK
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Business Geography
Keywords: industry 4.0, manufacturing, industrial policy, regional policy, regions
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Diplomat Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


A host of new technologies are driving the current, fourth industrial revolution. Captured by a business-focused narrative, the term ‘Industry 4.0’ has been celebrated for the impact it was expected to have inside the factory. The ‘Internet of Things’, artificial intelligence, robotics and automation are argued to bring efficiency, productivity, responsiveness, flexibility and ultimately seamless integration of the supply chain in manufacturing production. The German government made Industrie4.0 its technology strategy, delivered via key actors including industry associations and Fraunhofer Institutes. This subsequently triggered interest amongst manufacturing business leaders worldwide and the policy community. An academic debate has followed. This paper aims to push the debate over Industry 4.0 further, with three main aims. One is to unpack what wide-ranging disruptions the fourth industrial revolution may bring and its implications for firms, industries, labour, and consumers. Secondly, this is used to shed light on the appropriate levels of governance and dimensions of industrial policy required to support EU economies so as to fully benefit from the technological changes underway. Thirdly, the paper surveys how different countries in Europe have launched industry policy agendas that are promoting advanced manufacturing (sometimes also called industry 4.0) and to ascertain what opportunities these are seizing and what elements are missing in policy development. In so doing the paper aims to contribute to debates on how industrial and regional policy needs to both adapt to and help shape the fourth industrial revolution for wider economic benefit.

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