The EU funded project UpskillingLab 4.0 and its outcomes were presented and tested on the 22nd and 23rd April 2021. The main project goal is to provide skill improvement opportunities to companies’ staff (managers and employees involved in innovation), so as to empower them to foster open innovation between startups, scaleups, and established companies operating in specific verticals with focus on modern technologies and innovation (Industry 4.0).
The meeting saw the participation of representatives from the whole project consortium, which is composed of:
The meeting continued with an overview provided by Tontxu Campos from University of Deusto on the Upskilling Lab 4.0’s Skills Development Framework (Output 2), followed by a closing Q&A session.
On Friday, the 23rd, the meeting began with the presentation of the toolkits, followed by their testing and evaluation.
Jan Bormans from ESN guided the testing and evaluation session for the Training toolkit for start-ups/scale-ups (Output 3/A1), while Milena Koleva guided the one on the Training toolkit for start-ups/scale-ups (Output 3/A2) and presented the ongoing work on the Gamified platform (Output 4).
The meeting closed with a discussion on the evaluation methodology for the tools and the training led by Tontxu Campos and with a wrap up by Sasha Dijkstra.
When the concept of Industry 4.0 was first announced in Germany, this industrial revolution started growing from the theoretical concepts to real-word applications.
The change that this industrial revolution will bring will affect most of our lives, therefore many countries are preparing for it through policies, national strategies and research and development plans that will help overcome the challenges, but also grab the opportunities that are coming our way.
Since the concept on Industry 4.0 is still quite new there are no clear standards according to which it could be implemented. Therefore, each country is implementing it differently based on the needs of its market and industry specifications.
The European Union is also encouraging research into the field of smart technologies with research programmes that offer funding like “Horizon Europe”.
There are certain issues and challenges that are coming with Industry 4.0 and they mostly concern the lack of autonomy in many current systems, lack of bandwidth in a majority of the current network protocols, the need to ensure the quality and the integrity of the data recoded, making modelling and analysis satisfactory for practical purposes and the need to adjust current production routes.
And let us not forget the critical issue of cyber security (which will be approached in one of our next articles).
With all these issues in mind, most of the developed countries are investing in research and development either though substantial government founding or through incentives for the industry to invest in its future.
If you are interested in knowing how countries are preparing for the Industry 4.0 revolution and what are their programs and plans for the future, you should read this article.
European Startup Network
As the implementation of Industry 4.0 takes place, and virtual and physical worlds slowly intertwine, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are starting to get used in various sectors and contexts - from consumer applications to manufacturing.
According to a survey conducted by PwC, AR and VR solutions are seen as the key elements of an overall digital manufacturing strategy in Industry 4.0. More specifically, AR and VR will play the fundamental role in system maintenance, service, quality assurance as well as self-learning and training.
Using simulation models and AR can help manufacturers speed up the entire production chain, virtual design processes or enhance the testing and digital prototyping. Likewise, consumers can also benefit from AR/VR experiences or products, such as special AR/VR glasses or headsets that will enhance their user experience.
As this trend continues, marketers are also expected to catch on and offer new solutions that highlight the prestige and wealth of a company or a brand that uses AR/VR technologies, e.g. luxury car brands.
According to a briefing from the European Commission, Europe, USA and certain Asian countries (Japan, China, South Korea) are currently the leading regions in terms of the development of AR/VR technologies.
The European VR and AR production value accounts for one quarter of its global value, and in the past years, a growing number of new start-ups focusing on these technologies have emerged. It is thus expected for the European share in the global AR/VR industry to increase in the upcoming years.
European Startup Network
Other source(s): https://www.i-scoop.eu/industry-40-virtual-reality-vr-augmented-reality-ar-trends/
The implementation of Industry 4.0 and the businesses who are increasingly using connected technologies to innovate, transform and modernize their internal processes are creating the need for constant assessment of cyber risks and improvement of information systems’ security.
As cyber risks in connected technologies and systems grow, cybersecurity should become a fundamental part of any Industry 4.0-driven initiative in order to prevent serious disruptions or data losses.
Digital supply networks and smart factories should be secure and resilient, and it is imperative to predict possible risks and cyber attacks, instead of trying to fix the issue at the end of the strategic process. As Deloitte stated in their report, two main cybersecurity objectives of digital supply networks are ensuring private sharing of sensitive information and secure vendor processing.
Smart factories, for their part, should ensure the safety of their employees, continuous production, protect the brand and reputation of the organization and ensure overall process reliability.
According to a briefing from the European Parliament, cybersecurity has only partly been included in relevant EU policies. So far, the key European strategies and legislation on cybersecurity have been focused on attaining the following goals:
● Protection of personal data;
● Security of operation of large scale and publicly accessible information networks;
● Protection of operation of key infrastructures.
The next objective is to embed cybersecurity in the future EU policy initiatives from the beginning, especially regarding new technologies and emerging sectors such as connected cars, smart grids and the loT.
European Startup Network
Apart from significant technology trends, there are various socioeconomic and cultural trends that provoke changes and affect the implementation of Industry 4.0.
Urbanization & Megacities
Although urbanization is not a recent trend, it is expected to continue rapidly in the next decade. According to ESPAS, approximately 2.5 billion people are expected to be added to the urban population by 2050 with Asia being the continent with the highest number of megacities.
It is important to take into account such concentration of inhabitants in certain areas in order to properly organize and adapt both global and local manufacturing and supply chains.
Healthcare in Industry 4.0
Growth of global, ageing population is expected to put strain on healthcare and related industries. Various Industry 4.0 and its technological solutions could help reduce costs of medical care and introduce medical help and practices in remote or poor areas while keeping high quality of services and delivering personalized care per patient’s requirements.
Industry 4.0 is also expected to introduce digital hospitals and propel manufacturing of customised implants, innovative tools and instruments for the medical field.
Greater work-life balance & remote working
Employees are taking their work-life balance more seriously than ever before, and since 2020 introduced remote working on a global scale, more and more people are seeing it as a great opportunity to improve their work-life balance.
Apart from spending more time at home, remote working helps cut transportation-related costs, saves time to people who otherwise have to travel long distances to their place of work and, in overall, helps them be more productive while also having more time to spend on other activities and family time.
European Startup Network
Innovations in technology, software, and hardware have been driving change and leading towards the implementation of Industry 4.0 for years, even more so since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. The world has seen significant advances in human-machine, machine-machine, and human-human connectivity that have a great impact on production systems and global processes.
Current and upcoming technology trends in Industry 4.0 trends are crucial in achieving the expected levels of (inter)connection and communication between machines that will lead to creation of smart and autonomous factories.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are the key trends driving innovation across all industries with AI-specific hardware being developed in order to optimize manufacturing. More and more factories are beginning to implement AI systems in their production processes with the aim of conducting predictive maintenance and implementing context-aware computing, smart machines and hardware accelerators.
Enhanced network and connectivity are two fundamental factors in enabling significant technology developments such as edge-to-cloud, 5G, machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and IoT framework. Innovations in this area are expected to increase not only speed, but also security and efficiency of data transmission and overall connectivity.
Advanced robotics make the processes in Industry 4.0 much faster and efficient, while also enhancing safety in manufacturing. Some of the most promising robotic technologies include collaborative robots (cobots), autonomous vehicles and drones, humanoids, mobile robots, cloud robotics and pick and place robots. Using robots means higher precision and agility, as well as freeing up the time for the human workforce to concentrate on other tasks.
Our second article on IP management (first article here) in open innovation explains some of the common practices and agreements that companies use in order to protect their IP rights and ensure confidentiality.
The parties engaged in open innovation might decide to sign a consortium agreement, establish joint ownership or to engage in knowledge transfer via licensing and other contractual mechanisms.
As explained by the European IPR Helpdesk, consortium agreements are usually signed when large companies, SMEs and research and technology organisations (RTOs) decide to openly innovate together. The agreement identifies the IP owned by each party before the project, allocates IP ownership generated during the project and defines the IP access rights necessary for project execution.
On the other hand, joint ownership is usually put into practice in joint ventures and it identifies the following essential IP issues regarding jointly owned assets:
Licensing can be carried out in two ways: licensing-in and licensing-out. In the first scenario, a company is granted access to a third party’s knowledge, and in the second case, a company puts its own knowledge at the third party's disposal.
Another form of knowledge transfer is assignment of IP. The assignment occurs when a company that owns the IP (the assignor) transfers the ownership of an intellectual property right to another party (the assignee).
In any type of knowledge transfer, it is essential to evaluate the economic value of the IP rights owned by partners in order to conclude a fair agreement. In order to do this, partners might conduct an IP audit process which helps them set the IP development strategy, evaluate risks of their partners’ IP assets and reduce the risks of infringement.
European Startup Network
As more and more companies openly collaborate and innovate with third parties, the question of proper intellectual property (IP) management arises. The companies have to rethink their innovation models and strike a balance between what knowledge they share with partners and stakeholders and what they can gain from collaborations with them.
If a company manages poorly its relations with external stakeholders, it can be at risk of distributing confidential information related to its intellectual property and losing profits from innovation.
According to the European IPR Helpdesk, open innovation can be carried out in various forms, such as:
In order to protect their assets and maximize future gains from open innovation, companies should implement internal IP protection measures in the early stages of collaboration. This can be accomplished by:
When collaborating, parties often disclose know-how and technologies that have not been protected yet. To avoid potential misuse of such information, it is highly recommended to conclude a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that establishes the conditions of collaboration and sharing of sensitive information between partners.
European Startup Network
The EU funded project UpskillingLab 4.0 kicked off in Sofia in December 2019. The main project goal is to provide skill improvement opportunities to companies’ staff (managers and employees) in order to connect international start-ups, scaleups, and established companies operating in specific verticals with focus on modern technologies and innovation (Industry 4.0).
The consortium delivering the project is composed of:
● Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), leader of the consortium
● Knowledge, Innovation and Strategies Management Club (KISMC), from Bulgaria
● Chamber of Craft & Small Business of Slovenia (CCSBS), from Slovenia
● University of Deusto, from Spain
● European Startup Network (ESN), from Belgium
● Inqubator Leeuwarden (INQ), from the Netherlands
The two Bulgarian partners Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), represented by Lora Lyubenova, and Knowledge, Innovation and Strategies Management Club (KISMC), represented by Milena Koleva, in the video below share the achievements of the project to date and what could be expected in next project period.
Despite the disruptions and challenges caused by COVID-19, the project is being very well implemented due to the experience of all international partners and the actions taken to mitigate any risks associated with the pandemic and other external factors.
Watch the video now for updates on the Upskilling Lab 4.0 project:
For more information about the project, please read here.
START UPS (NGO and economic ones) TO FIGHT PANDEMIA
Nearly 21.000 participants gathered at the EUvsVirus Hackathon, an initiative led by the European Innovation Council during the 24-26 weekend of April to fight the effects of COVID-19. “Over 2,150 solutions were submitted in areas including health and life (898), business continuity (381), remote working and education (270), social and political cohesion (452), digital finance (75) and other challenges (83). Germany (389), Italy (320) and Spain (315) submitted the highest number of solutions, which range from a ‘modular micro factory’ to a ‘natural language processing system for medical reporting.”
Several mentors from University of Deusto had the opportunity to take part in the initiative.
MATCHING START UPS AND COMPANIES
Later on, a Matchaton was being hold during a 22-25 extended weekend of May to join start ups and investors.
One of the tools that we have had the opportunity to know during the EUvsVirus Matchathon is the Co-Innovation Builder Toolbox designed under the Corship-Corporate edupreneurship.
This is the first prototype of the tool that offers a model of relationship to startups and existing companies to foster open innovation, simple and effective canvas:
Both sides clarify expectations and goals, define roles, contributions and resources and in doing so they can easily define the agreement under 5 variables: goals, format, outcomes, risks and KPIs.
Corship also offers a free MOOC to train users of the canvas.
Collaboration between start ups and companies could be more effective for the whole ecosystem (quicker and cheaper) if done properly.
Upskilling lab 4.0 is developing the main skills that both sides should exert for a successful collaboration.