Industry 5.0: Towards more sustainable, resilient and human-centric industry

14 Jan 2021

The report “Industry 5.0” from the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (European Commission) has been published on 7 January 2021 through the hands of Mariya Gabriel. The report recognises the power of industry to achieve societal goals beyond jobs and growth to become a resilient provider of prosperity, by making production respect the boundaries of our planet and placing the wellbeing of the industrial worker at the centre of the production process.

What drives innovation? On the one hand, it is driven by blue-sky research where discoveries often find applications that innovate our existing practices. On the other, it is driven by society’s evolution itself; we adapt to emerging societal needs and realities by searching for and implementing new solutions. Industrial policy should provide the best conditions for innovation to flourish and to give it direction so that our society benefits, that no one is left behind and that we respect the boundaries of the planet.

Ever since the first industrial revolution, industry has been an engine for European prosperity. Industrial development has had a tremendous impact on European society, perhaps more so than any domain of human effort. Policy-makers and regulators have needed to channel and mitigate negative consequences, while ascertaining as many citizens as possible could share in its benefits.

Innovation shows no signs of slowing down. European industry continuously needs to innovate to stay competitive. Now more than ever, we need to invest in the future, to overcome the economic challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, and to establish a “new normal” with a more competitive, more sustainable and greener European industry.

It is our role to steer this new wave of innovation. We need to make sure industry’s evolution is in line with our priorities, including the European Green Deal, Europe Fit for the Digital Age and an Economy that Works for People. Becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent is both a challenge and an opportunity. It involves redesigning our economy, updating our industrial policy and investing in research and innovation. The twin green and digital transitions require new technologies, with investment and innovation to match.

We will have a variety of tools to make this happen, notably the Recovery and Resilience Facility of Next Generation EU and Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation programme. Policy initiatives such as the European Research Area are specifically aimed at accelerating the diffusion of new technologies, making sure they benefit the economy and wider society, across Member States, regions and cities.

However, more is needed. This concept paper puts forward a coherent vision for the future of European industry. We call it “Industry 5.0”. This vision recognises the power of industry to achieve societal goals beyond jobs and growth, to become a resilient provider of prosperity, by making production respect the boundaries of our planet and placing the wellbeing of the industry worker at the centre of the production process. It complements the existing “Industry 4.0” paradigm by having research and innovation drive the transition to a sustainable, human-centric and 4 4 resilient European industry. It moves focus from solely shareholder value to stakeholder value, for all concerned.

See the full report here.