Article

Published on 14 octobre 2021

Industry of the Future by Digital Wallonia is a project and a consortium set up to speed up the digital transformation of industrial businesses in Wallonia to achieve Industry 4.0. The consortium acts as a catalyst by bringing together competitiveness clusters, sector-specific federations, research centres, clusters and stakeholders dedicated to economic development.

Digital Wallonia’s regional Industry of the Future programme has helped coordinate the work of 37 partners (professional and sector-specific federations, research centres, clusters, etc.) to ensure the digital transformation of industry in Wallonia. At the beginning of 2021, these are the key points of our progress report:

  • 6 Factories of The Future, 14 Made Different Digital Wallonia Ambassadors.
  • 3 Industry 4.0 demonstrators.
  • 11 advanced digital technologies for Industry 4.0 in Wallonia. 4 specialist fields.
  • Over 1,400 different manufacturing companies made aware of Industry 4.0.
  • 203 different manufacturing companies supported in their digital transformation
  • Regional selection as a European Digital Innovation Hub (EDIH) in 4.0.
  • A brand with an international presence, in particular at the Hannover Messe and the Global Industry Forum.
  • An ecosystem of more than 240 Walloon stakeholders involved in the development of Industry 4.0 in Wallonia.

Shared ambition


Since work began on Industry 4.0, the importance of a successful digital transformation in the manufacturing sector has been a priority for business federations (the UWE’s Heptathlon 2024), competitiveness clusters (2019 Clusters Memorandum), all regional partners, the Council of Industry (2018 report) and, of course, for the companies themselves.

However, none of these initiatives would be possible without the active support of the Walloon Government (Wallonia’s Digital Strategy 2015-2019 and 2020-2024).

The project’s vision and how it is managed


The Digital Wallonia Industry of the Future consortium is dedicated to assessing the needs of the manufacturing companies that belong to its ecosystem. It informs and guides companies towards the initiatives, support programmes, training, subsidies and experts available for Industry 4.0 in Wallonia.

Main outcomes

  • The consortium now encompasses all the stakeholders involved in industry, i.e. 37 partners.
  • A steering committee meets 3 times a year to monitor progress and take stock of the business contacts that have been established. In particular, it has decided to increase the number of teams available to provide information and persuade companies to carry out an in-depth assessment of potential opportunity when it comes to Industry 4.0.
  • A bi-annual plenary meeting brings together all the consortium’s partners.
  • A directory of the Industry 4.0 ecosystem. This directory currently includes over 160 private commercial companies offering Industry 4.0 products and services.
  • A detailed directory of the areas of expertise available at approved research centres (“centres de recherche agréés” or CRAs) in this field.
  • A “chèques-entreprises” (business cheques) scheme to complement the financial support available to manufacturing companies keen to embark on their transformation.

Resources and communication

Raising awareness about Industry 4.0


The Industry of the Future programme aims to raise awareness of the importance and impact of the digital transformation for the manufacturing sector. This is part of the range of the support services available (Focus area 2 for the Programme).

This awareness involves providing information for manufacturing companies about “Industry of the Future”. A positive outcome is recorded once:

  • the company has signed up for a conference, a themed workshop, training, a round table event etc.
  • direct contact is made with the company during a meeting;
  • information is sent out in the form of a newsletter, a video or a questionnaire, as long as it is clear that the company has expressed an interest.

Since 2017, 86 activities have been supported by the programme, leading to conferences, workshops, company visits, round table events and training organized in Wallonia.

Alongside this, a large number of articles have been published about the programme and the tools available to companies or about events organized by partners. These documents can all be found on digitalwallonia.be and madedifferent.be.

Main outcomes

1,406 individual manufacturing companies were reached through these awareness-raising activities:

  • 583 through direct contact with the consortium partners.
  • 599 through conferences, company visits and workshops organized by the partners.
  • 472 via the digital maturity barometer for businesses.

The total number of companies involved in these activities is more than 1,406 as some of them took part in more than one.

Resources and communication

Industry 4.0 assessments


Level one and level two assessments are available for manufacturing companies. The ultimate goal is to provide companies with an action plan and recommendations that they can implement. This is part of the range of support services available (Focus area 2 for the Programme).

Main outcomes

As of 1 January 2021, 203 different manufacturing companies have been assessed:

  • 112 were interested in or benefited from a level one “Ambitions” assessment (online or half-day).
  • 178 in or from a level two assessment, a more in-depth analysis involving several days spent within the company.

More than 203 companies have benefited from an assessment as one company may have received both levels of support.

Resources and communication

“Industry of the Future: take action” event


The last two (March 2018 and 2019) of these annual landmark events dedicated to Industry 4.0 in Wallonia have brought together more than 120 different manufacturing companies, all sectors combined. The goal is to identify trends and innovations connected to Industry of the Future and to promote Walloon companies that excel in this field.

The event has 2 stages :

  • a series of demos showcasing “Industry of the Future” during the day.
  • an award ceremony for the Factory of the Future Award and Ambassadors in the evening.

2020 event

The 2020 event, due to take place in March 24, was unfortunately cancelled due to the Coronavirus crisis. It was replaced with a press conference by the Minister for Digital Technology and the AdN on 19 June 2020, in collaboration with PwC, and in the presence of members of the Industry of the Future Digital Wallonia Consortium.

Main outcomes:

  • Winners: 3 factories of the future, including 1 that was re-elected and 1 Made Different ambassador.
  • PWC AdN study entitled “Industry 4.0: what are the keyfactors for successif you want to become anindustry of the future?”
  • Presentation of Technifutur's Industry 4.0 demonstrator as part of the Digital Wallonia network of demonstrators.
  • Presentation of the Minister’s priorities for Digital Wallonia's Industry of the Future programme.

2019 event

Also organised in collaboration with all the partners of the “Industry of the Future” consortium, but more specifically with the CATCH project in Charleroi and, for the series of demos, Sirris, TechnoCampus and Technifutur.

Main outcomes :

  • Attendance figures:
  • demos: approximately 400 visitors (schools and individuals);
  • evening: 550 people present.
  • Winners: 4 factories of the future and 13 Made Different ambassadors.
  • A comprehensive directory of digital research for industry transformation.
  • 3 Industry 4.0 demonstrators deployed in Wallonia during the year.
  • The 2018 digital maturity barometer for businesses, a detailed analysis of manufacturing sub-sectors.
  • Resources and communication :

    2018 event

    Organised in collaboration with all the partners of the “Industry of the Future” consortium, and more specifically with Ciseo and Citius Engineering, as hosts, and Sirris, TechnoCampus, Technifutur, for the demos.

    Main outcomes:

    • Attendance figures:
    • Demos: approximately 250 visitors (schools and individuals);
    • Evening: 480 people present.
  • 7 Made Different Digital Wallonia Ambassadors 2018 recognised during the event.
  • Resources and communication:

    Industry 4.0 ecosystem in Wallonia


    The Industry 4.0 ecosystem encompasses all the initiatives and stakeholders involved in the development of Industry 4.0, also known as “Factory 4.0” or “Smart manufacturing”. It focuses on the advanced digital technologies already used by businesses that will significantly transform how things are produced: blockchain, robotics, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, data analytics, digital simulation, digital twins, etc.

    It brings together 239 Walloon stakeholders offering solutions for the switch to Industry 4.0, including 160 private commercial companies offering Industry 4.0 products and services.

    Digital Wallonia has identified 11 key advanced digital technologies that are helping businesses make the move towards Industry of the Future. Indeed, depending on the sector and the markets, these technologies have become or will become essential if businesses want to remain competitive.

    On the basis of these criteria, it appears that three advanced digital technologies play a key role in Wallonia when it comes to CRAs. They are in fact the subject of a large number of research projects among Walloon companies, leading to some clear success stories and real competitive advantages.

    Main outcomes :

    Resources and communication :

    Industry 4.0 demonstrator


    Several versatile Industry 4.0 demonstrators are currently being implemented in Wallonia. They are designed to spread Industry 4.0 concepts and technologies as widely as possible thanks to the consortium made up of TechnoCampus, Technifutur, MecaTech and Sirris and supported by Agoria and Digital Wallonia. This project is fully integrated into the Digital Wallonia Industry of the Future strategy.

    The goals are to :

    Main outcomes :

    Internationalisation


    The Industry of the Future consortium works with Awex, Infopôle and MecaTech to help organise and/or support digital missions around the world. Technology intelligence is also being gathered, with a focus on industrial trade shows/conferences.

    Main outcomes:

    Resources and communication :