Markets analysis

Eastern Europe wants to keep pace with Industry 4.0

| Author / Editor: Stéphane Itasse / Rosemarie Stahl

Digitalisation has also taken hold in Eastern Europe - large German companies like Bosch and Continental are supporting its development.
Digitalisation has also taken hold in Eastern Europe - large German companies like Bosch and Continental are supporting its development. (Source: Bosch)

Industry 4.0 and digitisation are not just high on the agenda in high-wage countries such as Germany, the United States or Switzerland. In Eastern Europe, Hungary and the Czech Republic also want to keep up with developments.

Hungary is making moves in digitisation and Industry 4.0. It was one of the first countries to join the EU digitisation campaign in the first half of the year, as reported by the Hungarian Ministry of Economic Affairs. To this end, the country intends to participate in EU-funded projects to promote the development of smart car production, e-mobility and e-banking, said Mihály Varga, Minister of National Economy, after meeting with the European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip. Speaking at the Hungarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Varga said that the government has put forward measures to promote digitisation and industrial development and is currently introducing a re-industrialisation plan. Among other things, it focuses on the development of self-driving vehicles and e-mobility. Previously, the National Technology Platform was launched to promote and provide information on Industry 4.0.

Digitalisation has also taken hold in Eastern Europe - large German companies like Bosch and Continental are supporting its development.
Digitalisation has also taken hold in Eastern Europe - large German companies like Bosch and Continental are supporting its development. (Source: Bosch)

“Since Industry 4.0 plays a central role in economic development and increasing the quality of employment, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has launched the Industry 4.0 Model Factory program”, said State Secretary István Lepsényi, according to a report by the German-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK Hungary). According to him, the digitisation-based fourth industrial revolution requires modern production and experts with the appropriate training.

Budapest is receiving support from major German companies, as reported by the German-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce. Bosch has signed a letter of intent to join the national supplier program. “This means more Hungarian SMEs can gain the knowledge of large companies, which is essential for Industry 4.0”, expects Varga. Daniel Korioth, head of the Hungarian Bosch Group, said: “With their participation in the program, Bosch aims to support its SME partners in knowledge transfer, as well as in capacity extensions”. For its part, Continental has opened a training workshop for its own staff and high school students, where, in addition to basic technical know-how, Industry 4.0 is also taught. “The shortage of skilled labour and the pace of ongoing change in workplaces, as dictated by the global development of the automotive industry, meant that it was a matter of urgency for us to build this type of modern training workshop in our company”, explained Róbert Keszte, Managing Director of Continental Automotive Hungary Kft.

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Czech Republic focuses on digital infrastructure

“Hungary was one of the first countries to join the EU programs, promoting an innovation-based economy through industrial development and digitisation programmes”, said Hungary's economy minister Mihály Varga (r.) after a meeting with the EU Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip.
“Hungary was one of the first countries to join the EU programs, promoting an innovation-based economy through industrial development and digitisation programmes”, said Hungary's economy minister Mihály Varga (r.) after a meeting with the EU Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip. (Source: Hungarian Ministry for Economy)

While Hungary is still working to bring digitisation closer to its businesses, managers in the neighbouring Czech Republic have another problem: the digital infrastructure. On the initiative of German-Czech Chamber of Commerce (DTIHK), some global players have teamed up with the Chamber to create a platform for the development of intelligent infrastructure throughout the country. According to the Chamber, they include Bosch, Eon, Pre, Siemens, Škoda Auto and T-Mobile; the consulting firms Deloitte and Roland Berger will support the processes. “We want to combine the power of our top businesses and bring them together with agile start-ups and cities. Today, economic innovation changes people’s lives more profoundly and more quickly than ever before”, said DTIHK President Jörg Mathew. According to the Chamber, the platform will develop new systems, technologies, and business models and provide solutions for the problems of tomorrow.

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