New knowledge will get companies to take part in the fourth industrial revolution

The fourth industrial revolution

With a new Industry 4.0 R&D Programme, companies and researchers have an opportunity to intensify their collaboration regarding technology-based innovation. Pictured here are Assistant Professor Michal Budzik and PhD Student Simon Heide-Jørgensen. They are developing a new molecular adhesive for bonding of rubber to metal surfaces in the food industry. Photo: Lars Kruse.

Aarhus University will use a new programme to ensure that knowledge about digitalisation and materials technology will benefit Danish companies. This will prepare them for developing smarter products and production methods, so they can ride the Industry 4.0 wave.

With a large amount of regional business development funds from the Central Denmark Region and the European Regional Development Fund, it will be possible for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Denmark to gain access to knowledge about new technologies, and help to implement these in their products, services or production systems.

“Technological development is radically changing the innovation conditions for the business sector at present. Especially digital growth technologies and new production methods have started a rapid race for development in virtually all branches and, in this context, knowledge is a crucial fuel for the companies. As a university, we have considerable responsibility to ensure research and education with a high degree of social relevance,” says head of section Andy Drysdale.

30 new business adventures
The aim is to increase the number of companies that can turn technology into new business opportunities, and thereby achieve an industrial competitive edge in global markets.

“Many companies can create a significant head start by implementing new growth technologies in their development activities, and many of them simply have to do this to survive tomorrow and in the long run. Industry 4.0 transforms the business sector’s framework conditions, and paves the way for completely new business models,” says Andy Drysdale.

He is the project manager for the new programme, which will implement ten new innovation collaborations with a total of 30 companies during the years to come.

Science, productivity and export
In principle, the programme targets all SMEs with a need for technology-based innovation. The companies participating in the programme will collaborate on a specific project in a small consortium with two other companies and a knowledge institution.

In this connection, Andy Drysdale points out particular research areas that are significant for industry’s adaptation to the Industry 4.0 wave.

“Advanced, smart materials, smart products and processes, and artificial intelligence are growth technologies that can be seriously important for business development in the coming years. The knowledge created by the universities in these areas radically changes production conditions. Industry 4.0 is basically about machines and products becoming intelligent and self-learning, and able to exchange information in real time. It’s clear that companies that are good at spotting opportunities in scientific progress and creating new forms of collaboration concerning innovation will gain a considerable competitive edge,” he says.

In Denmark, it is well documented that new knowledge and technology boost a company’s productivity and export capacity.