The deployment of new technologies, and in particular Industry 4.0 technologies, is a national priority in virtually every advanced economy. The Innovation Strategy set out by the UK government commitments to an increased focus on technology adoption, but as things stand, the UK is in a disadvantaged position.
On one hand, the UK has not yet established an Industry 4.0 diffusion programme covering all regions. On the other, the international experience suggests that simply creating new programmes and initiatives might not be sufficient, as some programmes might only work if certain types of institutions with the required coverage exist in the country. In this context, there is a stronger role for existing institutions, like Catapults, to play in the diffusion of industrial digital technology.
In any case, a debate on the need for long-term investment on institutions for technology diffusion in the UK, especially for SMEs, is overdue.
This briefing note aims to contribute to this debate by outlining why Industry 4.0 matters, analysing the UK's current Industry 4.0 initiative, the Made Smarter programme, and setting the programme in comparison to the initiatives of other countries.