“Our industrial sovereignty depends on building an ecosystem of solution providers in France”

What were the triggers for the transition during Industry 4.0?

The health crisis has only been a factor in accelerating the awareness of companies about the integration of digital and climate issues. Prior to Covid-19, the digital terrain was already being plowed by public and private organizations. When it comes to climate, some pioneering companies are leading, but the pandemic is raising awareness and the spread of best practices. On these topics, the crisis is not a creator but an accelerator of trends that are already at work.

On the other hand, in reindustrialization, there is a before and after. Although it was considered an economic issue, associated with the recovery of the trade balance, the strengthening of French industry became strategic because it was synonymous with sovereignty. And it’s not just in health or defense, but also in sectors like the food industry. And the current geopolitical tensions prove it, triggering a real dynamic of reindustrialization.

Is it organized reindustrialization?

Re -industrialization should be based on three main and complementary actions. First, if we understand the challenge of defining and supporting strategic sectors, such as energy or health, we must above all support the development of industrial activity in a horizontal logic, independent of the sector. We can only achieve a long-term return to strategic industrial activities in France if we improve the overall weight of the industry to GDP.

Then, this reindustrialization must be done to the best standards in terms of industry 4.0 to produce at competitive costs. There is no question of re -industrialization by rebuilding factories like fifty years ago. Finally, we must encourage the emergence, in France, of new innovative players with an industrial vocation. These start-ups and industrial SMEs will be part of the industry tomorrow by doing innovative things in technology or in terms of use.

Where is the French 4.0 industry?

According to robotics and digital standards, the French industry is undeniably lagging behind Germany. Our factories are not adequately robotized or digitized. But the tendency of leaders to move towards Industry 4.0 is even stronger. Similar to their understanding of the issues: it is not just a question of integrating new technologies, but more importantly integrating what these technologies can allow to allow them to serve their customers and produce others.

Awareness of the bosses of SMEs and ETI is present, the potential for disruptive change and industry 4.0 has been acted upon.

France’s sovereignty in terms of Industry 4.0 also includes the development of an ecosystem of solution providers. We should have more Dassault Systèmes and Schneider Electric in France, to have a sovereign offer.

Are the conditions met?

Awareness of the bosses of SMEs and ETI is present, the potential for disruptive change and industry 4.0 has been acted upon. But we must continue, by developing the promotion of good practices, as the “Industry of the Future Showcases” example allows. It is also a question of helping managers acquire expertise. Faced with the proliferation of transition injunctions issued to companies, they must enter a cycle of rapid change. But the subjects and actors are many.

So it is necessary to create the simplest possible support path. In this sense, bpifrance has joined forces with the Technical Center for Mechanical Industries (Cetim), to support manufacturers both in strategy and in technological implementation. The challenge of recruitment remains, the main barrier to business growth since the end of 2020. Having 4.0 factories is a necessity again to attract talent.

How about funding?

We are convinced that the main challenge is to make life easier for leaders. Bpifrance has therefore strengthened the network of account managers in the territory as well as its tools. For example, we have an industry growth loan, or even a new industry loan that can be spread over fifteen years and reach 15 million euros.

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