By Anna Mieczakowski

Open innovation in industry aims to achieve global industrial leadership. The whole world is currently working hard to modernise their industrial bases by paying particular attention to cutting-edge key enabling technologies and setting up new companies to produce radical breakthrough innovations in products and processes, which can be rapidly scaled-up and quickly expanded in new and global markets. There is also a marked focus on stimulating new value chains, shortening the time for technology transfer and providing solutions to societal challenges by step-changing societal engagement and overall considering the human factor and societal needs.

The 4th Industrial Revolution is already well on its way to confluencing digital and physical advances for innovative new products and services, such as additive manufacturing or connected medical technologies. This latest industrial transformation is expected to improve the quality and efficiency of manufacturing, increase productivity and flexibility, produce resource efficiency of energy and raw materials with a view to mitigating climate change, minimising waste and making the most of emerging value chains. However, it is paramount that the 4th Industrial Revolution’s focus is further expended on supporting:

  1. Open science in order to better utilise new and existing scientific data for generation of a new generation of disruptive technologies and creation of new markets to provide prospects for smaller organisations.
  2. Open and accelerated approach for SMEs to restructure, integrate and achieve various Technology Readiness Levels in order to enter market within fewer than five years. This includes supporting reductions in technical and production development risks and faster technology transfers.
  3. International engagement in regulatory research to provide a safe transfer of technologies and to shorten the timescales of bringing new innovations into the marketplace. For example, nanotechnology or biotechnology products have to be developed safely and sustainably, both for public protection and for innovation to meet societal needs.
  4. More effective engagement with human factor and societal needs in order to provide better customer experience, as well as access and exploit value chains using modern technologies.
  5. New business model generation to fulfil the requirements of sustainability, globalised value chains, changing markets and emerging and future industries. This requires new strategies involving accelerated approaches, to allow innovative ideas to enter the markets, with emphasis on the upscaling of prototypes as well as new supply chains.
  6. Smart materials application development for most industrial sectors (i.e. consumer goods, manufacturing, transport, energy, healthcare), which utilise renewable resources, optimise processes for reducing waste by reusing both waste and CO2, and ultimately produce more sustainable products. For example, electric green vehicles which capture and store energy, and are extremely lightweight.
  7. Factories of the future, which are more energy efficient through reductions in CO2 emissions and energy consumption, and which produce greener, more customised and higher quality products through less waste and a better use of resources.
  8. Long term governance, which integrates knowledge and technology for human potential and security, as well as assesses technological and business risks.