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Industrie 4.0

Germany - The World's Leading Industrie 4.0 Nation

Germany has established itself as the world’s Industrie 4.0 hotspot. Find out why Industrie 4.0 works best in Germany and how your project can profit from this expertise.

Industrie 4.0 has become an international by-word for intelligent, networked production – with Germany consolidating its reputation as the world’s factory outfitter and a country capable of meeting the challenges of the digital age. International companies that come to Germany gain direct access to Europe’s biggest manufacturing market as well as a unique R&D and cluster landscape.

Industrie 4.0 R&D hotspot Germany

The online map shows where universities and research institutes, networks and clusters as well as SME support institutions are located in Germany. For a customized search, the following four search filters are available: SME support institutions, cluster & networks, universities and associated institutes as well as non-university research institutes. Click on the location for detailed information about the corresponding organization.

Contact our industry experts who can put you in contact with the organizations as well as help you find the right location in Germany for your business. Our experts will also provide you with tax and legal information as well as information about financing grants.

University/non-university research institutes

Internationally renowned non-university R&D institutes as well universities and associated institutes focus their research activities on digitalization, production technologies and Industrie 4.0 and cooperate closely with industry players.  These include various Fraunhofer Institutes, the German Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the National Research Center for Applied Cyber Security (ATHENE). As well as conducting research and  promoting knowledge transfer with industry, universities also train the engineers of tomorrow.

Clusters & networks

Investors will find an impressive number of regional and national networks and clusters in Germany. Plattform Industrie 4.0 is the central network to advance digital transformation in production in the country. The initiative seeks to consolidate Germany’s leading Industrie 4.0 role by engaging in ongoing dialogue with partners and developing action recommendations for all stakeholders that serve as the basis for a common framework.

Further important national industry associations working in the field of Industrie 4.0 include acatech (National Academy of Science and Engineering), Bitkom (Germany's digital association), VDMA (Association of German Machinery and Plant Manufacturers), and ZVEI (German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association).

In numerous regional clusters and networks, companies cooperate closely with R&D institutes and universities with a focus on automation and production technologies and Industrie 4.0.

SME support institutions

Small and medium-sized companies in particular can find a lot of support with their digitalization activities. Mittelstand 4.0 Competence Centers raise awareness about digitalization among companies and provide support including information, training and the opportunity to view and test new solutions in practice across the country. In addition, universities and research institutes provide test and demonstration labs for Industrie 4.0 applications.

Opportunities: Digitalizing German industry

A number of industries are increasing their digital efforts, with global businesses turning to digital services for the implementation of new business models that support increased productivity and the development of new products and services for increased customer and supplier engagement.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things ("IoT") is one of the most promising innovation accelerators for digital enterprises, with use cases spanning manufacturing, construction, retail, and transportation — almost all areas that utilize online devices or sensors. The short-term focus is on use cases and initiatives that can provide immediate and easy financial benefits with IoT enabling a new level of automation.

Big data

Germany is the fifth largest digital economy in the world. All major industries – automotive, electrical and chemical sector – rely on big data. Developments in the IT infrastructure are set to fuel further market growth: 5G networks see strong growth (86.5 percent of Germany covered in 2021; commercial launches of SA stand alone networks). Eighty percent of all companies in the manufacturing sector plan to digitalize their value chain up to 2024.

Besides big data, analytics and IT infrastructure,  additive manufacturing ("3D printing") is another very promising sector in the field of industry digitalization.  Around one in three large German industrial companies currently use 3D printing.

R&D support

Companies can count on generous Industrie 4.0 research support in Germany. The European Union supports technological innovation through the Horizon Europe program and Germany has established several funding programs in order to consolidate its status as an Industrie 4.0 leader.

Industrie 4.0 markets by industry sector

Industrie 4.0 as a project for the comprehensive digitalization of industrial production is being widely implemented in Germany as a leading industrial location. In Germany, 62 percent of companies utilize Industrie 4.0-related technologies and solutions (software, IT services and hardware) according to a Bitkom digital association 2021 study.  

The main application industries driving Industrie 4.0 solutions uptake are the automotive, mechanical and plant engineering, and electronics and high-tech sectors. Find out more about each and every major Industrie 4.0 sector below.

Automotive industry

Germany is the world's automotive innovation hub - making use of Industrie 4.0 solutions to create tomorrow's mobility solutions. The sector accounts for one third of the country's industry R&D spending.

ICT and software industry

Germany has one of the world's largest ICT markets and boasts the single largest software market in Europe. The country's ICT and software sectors are leading players in the deployment of Industrie 4.0 solutions.

Machinery & equipment industry

Germany is the world's leading supplier of machinery and equipment. The industry has invested more than EUR 10 billion in Industrie 4.0 solutions from 2015 to 2020, with smart manufacturing investment set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Microelectronics industry

Germany is a major microelectronics force, securing its place at the top of the international table as Europe’s leading semiconductor production location. The country plans to spend up to EUR 50 billion to consolidate Germany’s position as an attractive semiconductor production location.

Learn more about Germany's Industrie 4.0 success story.

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