We have often discussed the foreign pre-eminence – in the field of industry 4.0, start-ups and innovation – for example of Portugal and France, highlighting the undeniable gap that exists between these countries and Italy. However, in the wake of its recent National Industry 4.0 Plan, Italy is finally moving towards the digitization of companies, taking advantage of the incentives and tax relief granted by the government. One of the best cases in point is Innexhub, Lombardy’s first digital innovation hub, officially established in July last year at the behest of the business and crafts associations of Brescia, Cremona and Mantua.
“We do not wish to be seen as a superstructure,” says Angelo Baronchelli, Vice President of Associazione Industriale Bresciana and President of Innexhub, “but rather as a sort of control room”. The aim of Innexhub is to become a point of reference for local companies, providing consultancy services, mapping suppliers, and collecting data and resources to start the companies on the process of digitization.
There is a lot to be done, starting with training, and attempting to raise awareness on the shared importance of industry 4.0.
A few days ago, Innexhub signed an agreement with the Chambers of Commerce of Brescia, Mantua and Cremona, providing further confirmation of an effective and forward-looking public-private partnership: “This is of course a long-term project,” says Mr Baronchelli. “Entrepreneurs should not think of the benefit resulting from current incentives, but of the value of revolutionising their processes, with significant effects in the future.”
This revolution cannot be limited to a chosen few. Small businesses, which represent the backbone of Italy’s economy, cannot trail behind: “Digitization is often thought as involving major brands alone, whereas it is actually particularly useful to smaller companies, enabling them to establish inter-connected networks and therefore compete on the global market.” And indeed, Innexhub targets all types of firms, as Mr Baronchelli explains: “We hope to involve as many enterprises as possible in the project, and the response so far has been very positive, for example from farmers and craftsmen.”
Although we still have a lot to learn from the likes of France and Portugal, to quote just two examples in Europe, Italy is finally moving in the right direction: “There is a lot to be done,” says Mr Baronchelli, “starting with training first businessmen and then workers, and attempting to raise awareness on the shared importance of industry 4.0.”