Speaking at the opening of the EU - Brazil International Seminar - On the Road to Industry 4.0, EU Ambassador to Brazil Ignacio Ybáñez drew attention to a crucial point in the debate on the digital transformation of industry, whether in Brazil or in the EU: “Industry digitization is not just a technological challenge. It is a change of management paradigm and business models, creating new value chains, and requiring better training of professionals”.
MCTIC Secretary for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Paulo Alvim agreed with the ambassador: “We are talking about new businesses, new jobs. It is not about the survival of the industry, this is a new moment. It is about building convergence in public policies”.
Ybáñez stressed that these are central issues in the agreement between the EU and Mercosur. “Industry 4.0 (I4.0) or the digitization of industry, to use a broader term that reflects the scope of EU actions, is one of the most important and successful areas of cooperation between the EU and Brazil. Players in the Brazilian industry are interested in further understanding how the European industry is responding to the challenge of digital transformation. On the other hand, for the EU, Brazil, which is among the 10 largest economies in the world, is an unquestionable partner,” he said.
Brazil and the EU are partners in core technologies for digital transformation, such as IoT (Internet of Things) and 5G communication networks. “But we need to upgrade this cooperation. And the digitization of industry is one of the central themes in this agenda”, defended Ybáñez.
In turn, SEBRAE director Eduardo Diogo stated that “in terms of competitiveness, the productivity of Brazilian microenterprises is 10% that of large companies, while for small enterprises this figure rises to 27%. Within the OECD, the numbers are 57% and 68% respectively. If we can raise the standards of micro and small Brazilian companies to OECD levels, we will grow at 4% over ten years.”
With that in mind, the Brazilian Chamber of Industry 4.0 was created in April 2019, bringing together government agencies and industry representatives to discuss public policies aimed at increasing competitiveness and improving the business environment in the country. “The goal is to expand Brazil's participation in global chains through advanced manufacturing,” said MCTIC general coordinator of technology services Eliana Emediato. She spoke about the establishment of the Chamber and the work it has been done throughout the year, and the plans for 2020. The Chamber is coordinated by the MCTIC and the ME, and is made up of governmental, academic and business institutions. “It is responsible for governing the digital transformation of industry.”
In the last panel of the morning, representatives of the BNDES (Brazilian Development Bank) presented the instruments for financing and promoting the digitization of the Brazilian industry, alongside FINEP (Financier of Studies and Projects) and CPQD (Research and Development Centre in Telecommunications) members.
In the early afternoon, Professor Jefferson Gomes, from the Institute of Technological Research of São Paulo (IPT) spoke about the creation of the Centre for the 4th Industrial Revolution of the World Economic Forum (C4IR Network), which has a headquarters in Brazil.
“I4.0's technological innovations are putting tremendous pressure on regulatory frameworks. There is an urgent need for a faster and more agile approach to driving emerging technologies and new business models. The C4IR Network was launched in March 2017 by the World Economic Forum to coordinate the regulations and public policies needed to accelerate the adoption of 4th Industrial Revolution technologies in the global public interest,” explained Gomes.
According to him, the centre brings together governments, companies, start-ups, civil society, academia and international organizations to quickly develop, implement and scale up pilot projects that can be adopted globally by policy makers.
Digitization of MSMEs
European expert Ana Lehmann and Brazilian expert Giancarlo Stefanuto, both hired by the Sector Dialogues, presented their studies on the experience of MSMEs with digitization in the EU and Brazil.
Lehmann spoke about EU and Member State initiatives for the digitization and professional training of MSMEs, such as Learning Factories and Open Days, in Portugal; Testbed Sweden, in Sweden; Digital Innovation Hubs, in Spain; and Technological Pact, in Denmark. “The biggest challenge lies in digitizing MSMEs since large companies have the means and resources for this transformation.”
According to her, the EU has a low level of adoption of digital technologies, with 44% of industries adopting at least two key technologies (automation, cloud, social networking, mobile services, big data, IoT, etc.), and with MSMEs still facing the biggest challenges. “Only 17% of small businesses sell their products online, compared to 39% of large ones. Fewer than 40% of small businesses have digital specialists, while this figure can reach up to 70% in large companies.”
In turn, Stefanuto researched 15 MSMEs in five Brazilian cities selected based on their Industry 4.0 actions: Campinas, Florianopolis, Manaus, Porto Alegre and São Paulo. Among the conclusions of the study conducted by the expert is the need for a shift in vision and culture as pointed out by Ambassador Ybáñez. "On the other hand, we realized that entrepreneurs are aware of the urgency of digital transformation and there is an entrepreneurial academic culture that can drive projects focused on Industry 4.0."
But it is not just MSMEs that have a long way to go. A study conducted this year by the ABDI with 214 companies in the manufacturing industry was presented by Secretary of Industry Development, Trade, Services and Innovation, Gustavo Ene, and showed that 79% of these companies do not use I4.0 tools or use them separately. Only 7.5% use I4.0 with excellence. The most outstanding companies are foreign companies inserted in global value chains. Brazilian national companies that do not yet integrate these chains have the worst performance. “We need to have accurate diagnostics and straightforward solutions so we can move forward, which is why we created Chamber 4.0.”
Speaking at the closing of the seminar, DELBRA Minister-Counsellor Carlos Oliveira emphasized the EU's readiness for the next steps of the project. “We look forward to seeing you at our digital innovation centres where you can also learn all the crucial aspects of vocational training that are essential to securing not only today's jobs but those of tomorrow. All the effort we put into this is to create more competitive economies, and also to create economies that can translate into better welfare for the population and greater social cohesion,” concluded Oliveira.
Gustavo Ene, Secretary of Industry Development, Trade, Services and Innovation of the Ministry of Economy, thanked the EU for its support and recognized: “We are late. We have entrepreneurial capacity and many natural resources, but we need to hurry and do our homework so that we are not left behind in this process. We count on all partners, including the EU, to take this road and succeed.”
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