Industry 4.0. – Lessons from Bilbao

Back in 2018, the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) programme – AS-FABRIK – was one of the first to be featured on TechPlace. In this article, Daniela Patti explored how Bilbao was planning to rebuild its economy to embrace Industry 4.0. opportunities.

Fast forward to 2022. The UIA programme is finished and Bilbao is now leading one of the pilot URBACT Transfer Mechanism networks to share some of the findings more widely. But, what is Industry 4.0.? And why is it so important for Europe’s cities?

Despite advances in technology and service-based economies, manufacturing industries still dominate many European industrial city regions. Global competition is growing and traditional businesses need to adapt to digitalisation at the same time as improving productivity and sustainability.

Bilbao provides a good example of how to deal with the challenges and disruption of Industry 4.0.: Through AS-FABRIK, it developed a comprehensive approach that offers new training schemes, partnership formation, actions to speed up digitalisation, and activities to grow and develop innovative startups. In the URBACT AS-TRANSFER project, other cities with an industrial heritage are now learning how Bilbao did it: Bielsko-Biala (Poland), Tartu (Estonia) and Timisoara (Romania)  have joined Bilbao in the AS-TRANSFER exchange project.

AS-TRANSFER aims to transfer the lessons from AS-FABRIK to these three new partner cities. It uses the learning from Bilbao as a source of inspiration for the project partners that  want to strengthen different aspects of their industry 4.0 ecosystem. The AS-TRANSFER  network focuses on the following elements of the Bilbao good practice: Talent Ecosystem, startup boosting and Partnership Brokering.

For any cities interested in Industry 4.0., exploring Bilbao’s work is a really good place to start – check out the information available on AS-FABRIK here and AS-TRANSFER here.